Smoking History Predicts Sensitivity to PARP Inhibitor Veliparib in Patients with Advanced Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer

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Tobacco-related NSCLC is associated with reduced survival and greater genomic instability. Veliparib, a potent poly(adenosine diphosphate–ribose) polymerase inhibitor, augments platinum-induced DNA damage. A phase 2 trial of untreated advanced NSCLC showed a trend for improved outcomes (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.80, 95% confidence interval: 0.54–1.18, p = 0.27 for overall survival and HR = 0.72, 95% CI: 0.45–1.15, p = 0.17 for progression-free survival) when veliparib was added to carboplatin/paclitaxel. Here we report an exploratory analysis by smoking history.


Patients were randomized 2:1 to receive carboplatin/paclitaxel with veliparib, 120 mg (n = 105), or placebo (n = 53). Patients were stratified by histologic subtype and smoking history (recent smokers [n = 95], former smokers [n = 42], and never-smokers [n = 21]). Plasma cotinine level was measured as a chemical index of smoking. Mutation status was assessed by whole exome sequencing (n = 38).


Smoking history, histologic subtype, age, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, sex, and geographic region predicted veliparib benefit in univariate analyses. In multivariate analysis, history of recent smoking was most predictive for veliparib benefit. Recent smokers treated with veliparib derived significantly greater progression-free survival and overall survival benefits (HR = 0.38 [p < 0.01] and HR = 0.43 [p < 0.01]) than former smokers (HR = 2.098 [p = 0 0208] and HR = 1.62 [p = 0.236]) and never-smokers (HR = 1.025 [p = 0.971] and HR = 1.33 [p = 0.638]). Sequencing data revealed that mutational burden was not associated with veliparib benefit. The rate of grade 3 or 4 adverse events was higher in recent smokers with veliparib treatment; all-grade and serious adverse events were similar in both treatment arms.


Smoking history predicted for efficacy with a veliparib-chemotherapy combination; toxicity was acceptable regardless of smoking history. A prespecified analysis of recent smokers is planned for ongoing phase 3 studies of veliparib in NSCLC.

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