Autoantibody-positivity before and seroconversion during treatment with anti-PD-1 is associated with immune-related adverse events in patients with melanoma

July, 07, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Treatment with the immune checkpoint inhibitor anti-programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) often causes immune-related adverse events (irAEs). Since irAEs resemble autoimmune diseases, autoantibodies might play a role and could potentially be used to identify patients at risk. Therefore, we investigated the association between autoantibody-positivity and toxicity as well as clinical response in patients with melanoma treated with anti-PD-1.

Materials and methods

This two-center, retrospective study included 143 patients with melanoma treated with anti-PD-1. Toxicities grade ≥2 and recurrences/responses were captured until 6 months after treatment initiation. Autoantibody measurements were performed at baseline and 3 months after treatment initiation, including IgM-rheumatoid factor (RF), antinuclear antibodies (ANA), extractable nuclear antigen, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies (anti-CCP2) and anti-thyroid antibodies.


169 irAEs were experienced by 86/143 patients (137 grades 1–2, 32 grades 3–4), the most common being thyroiditis (n=25), dermatitis (n=24), and sicca problems (n=19). Patients with autoantibodies at baseline experienced more irAEs (p=0.001), predominantly associated with anti-thyroid antibodies and thyroid dysfunction. No association was observed between any irAE and anti-CCP2, RF or ANA. In women, baseline and on-treatment anti-thyroid antibody-positivity as well as seroconversion during treatment was associated with thyroid dysfunction. In men, this association was only observed on-treatment. The presence of autoantibodies was not associated with melanoma recurrence (p=0.776) or response (p=0.597).


The presence of autoantibodies prior to anti-PD-1 therapy is associated with irAEs in patients with melanoma. Both baseline positivity and seroconversion of anti-thyroid antibodies were strongly associated with thyroid dysfunction. This association was stronger in women, with all women who were baseline positive developing thyroid dysfunction.

For Additional News from OncWeekly – Your Front Row Seat To The Future of Cancer Care –




Sign up for our emails

Trusted insights straight to your inbox and get the latest updates from OncWeekly

Privacy Policy