Molecular correlates of clinical response and resistance to atezolizumab in combination with bevacizumab in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma

Andrew X. Zhu, Alexander R. Abbas, Marina Ruiz de Galarreta, Yinghui Guan, Shan Lu, Hartmut Koeppen, Wenjun Zhang, Chih Hung Hsu, Aiwu Ruth He, Baek Yeol Ryoo, Thomas Yau, Ahmed O. Kaseb, Adam M. Burgoyne, Farshid Dayyani, Jessica Spahn, Wendy Verret, Richard S. Finn, Han Chong Toh, Amaia Lujambio, Yulei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations

Abstract

Atezolizumab (anti-programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1)) and bevacizumab (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)) combination therapy has become the new standard of care in patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma. However, potential predictive biomarkers and mechanisms of response and resistance remain less well understood. We report integrated molecular analyses of tumor samples from 358 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) enrolled in the GO30140 phase 1b or IMbrave150 phase 3 trial and treated with atezolizumab combined with bevacizumab, atezolizumab alone or sorafenib (multikinase inhibitor). Pre-existing immunity (high expression of CD274, T-effector signature and intratumoral CD8+ T cell density) was associated with better clinical outcomes with the combination. Reduced clinical benefit was associated with high regulatory T cell (Treg) to effector T cell (Teff) ratio and expression of oncofetal genes (GPC3, AFP). Improved outcomes from the combination versus atezolizumab alone were associated with high expression of VEGF Receptor 2 (KDR), Tregs and myeloid inflammation signatures. These findings were further validated by analyses of paired pre- and post-treatment biopsies, in situ analyses and in vivo mouse models. Our study identified key molecular correlates of the combination therapy and highlighted that anti-VEGF might synergize with anti-PD-L1 by targeting angiogenesis, Treg proliferation and myeloid cell inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1599-1611
Number of pages13
JournalNature Medicine
Volume28
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2022

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