Purpose: To assess response to programmed death-1 (PD-1) monotherapy (nivolumab) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients using RECIST1.1, modified RECIST (mRECIST), and immune RECIST (iRECIST). A secondary objective was to identify clinicolaboratory and imaging variables predictive of progressive disease (PD) and overall survival (OS). Methods: Patients with HCC treated with nivolumab at a single institution from 5/2016 to 12/2019 with MRI or CT performed ≥ 4 weeks post treatment were retrospectively assessed. Patients who received concurrent locoregional, radiation, or other systemic therapies were excluded. Response was assessed by 2 observers in consensus using RECIST1.1, mRECIST, and iRECIST at 3/6/9/12-month time points. Time to progression (TTP) and OS were recorded. Clinicolaboratory and imaging variables were evaluated as predictors of PD and OS using uni-/multivariable and Cox regression analyses. Results: Fifty-eight patients (42M/16F) were included. 118 target lesions (TL) were identified before treatment. Baseline mean TL size was 49.1 ± 43.5 mm (range 10–189 mm) for RECIST1.1/iRECIST and 46.3 ± 42.3 mm (range 10–189 mm) for mRECIST. Objective response rate (ORR) was 21% for mRECIST/iRECIST/RECIST1.1, with no cases of pseudoprogression. Median OS and median TTP were 717 days and 127 days for RECIST1.1/mRECIST/iRECIST-iUPD (unconfirmed PD). Older age, MELD/Child–Pugh scores, AFP, prior transarterial radioembolization (TARE), and larger TL size were predictive of PD and/or poor OS using mRECIST/iRECIST. The strongest predictor of PD (HR = 2.49, 95% CI 1.29–4.81, p = 0.007) was TARE. The strongest predictor of poor OS was PD by mRECIST/iRECIST at 3 months (HR = 2.26, 95% CI 1.00–5.10, p = 0.05) with borderline significance. Conclusion: Our results show ORR of 21%, equivalent for mRECIST, iRECIST, and RECIST1.1 in patients with advanced HCC clinically treated with nivolumab.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-980
Number of pages12
JournalAbdominal Radiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Check point blockade
  • Computed tomography
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Immunotherapy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Response to therapy


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