Complete response to pembrolizumab in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma with microsatellite instability
Mismatch repair deficiency
Immune checkpoint blockade
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has limited systemic treatment options and a poor prognosis. The immune checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab was recently approved for the treatment of solid tumors with microsatellite instability (MSI). However, its clinical utility for the management of HCC remains to be clarified. Here, we present a case of unresectable HCC with MSI that showed an impressive response to pembrolizumab treatment. A 64-year-old man with chronic HCV infection was diagnosed with a large HCC. His severe liver dysfunction and poor performance status prevented any treatment option other than sorafenib. However, sorafenib failed after a few days due to the rapid progression of the tumor. Based on the finding of MSI in a biopsy specimen, immunotherapy using pembrolizumab was initiated. A dramatic improvement in his general condition and a reduction in tumor size were observed after the initiation of pembrolizumab treatment. Among a cohort of 50 consecutive patients with advanced HCC who were refractory to standard systemic therapy, MSI was found only in the present case. Immune checkpoint blockade therapy induced prominent anti-tumor effects in HCC with MSI. Screening for defects in DNA mismatch repair function may be warranted in HCC patients despite the low frequency of MSI.
Clinical Journal of Gastroenterology
This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Clinical Journal of Gastroenterology. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12328-020-01099-3
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