Association of Ipilimumab With Safety and Antitumor Activity in Women With Metastatic or Recurrent Human Papillomavirus–Related Cervical Carcinoma

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Based on evidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)–induced immune evasion, immunotherapy may be an attractive strategy in cervical cancer. Ipilimumab is a fully humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4), which acts to downregulate the T-cell immune response.


To assess the safety and antitumor activity of ipilimumab in recurrent cervical cancer.

Design, Setting, and Participants

A multicenter trial was designed for patients with metastatic cervical cancer (squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma) with measurable disease and progression after at least 1 line of platinum chemotherapy. A run-in safety cohort using ipilimumab, 3 mg/kg, every 21 days for 4 cycles in 6 patients was followed by a phase II cohort of ipilimumab, 10 mg/kg, every 21 days for 4 cycles and then 4 cycles of maintenance therapy every 12 weeks for patients demonstrating radiologic response or stabilization. Immune correlative studies were performed on peripheral blood before and after therapy on archival tissue and fresh tumor obtained prior to registration and 7 days after cycle 2. The study was conducted from December 3, 2012, to September 15, 2014. The data were analyzed from April 2016 to June 2016 and in July 2017.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The primary end points were safety and objective response rate. Immune analyses were performed on blood and tumor tissue.


A total of 42 women (median age, 49 years; range, 23-78 years) were enrolled (29 [69%] squamous cell cervical cancer and 13 [31%] adenocarcinoma; 37 [93%] of 40 patients with tissue available for analysis had HPV-positive confirmation; there was no archival tissue for 2 women). Grade 3 toxic effects included diarrhea in 4 patients, 3 of whom had colitis. Of 34 patients evaluated for best response (Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors, version 1.1), 1 patient had partial response and 10 had stable disease. The median progression-free survival and overall survival were 2.5 months (95% CI, 2.1-3.2 months) and 8.5 months (95% CI, 3.6-not reached; 1 patient was still alive), respectively. Intratumoral pretreatment CD3, CD4, CD8, FoxP3, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase, and programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression was not predictive of benefit and did not significantly change with treatment. Multicolor flow cytometry on peripheral lymphocytes revealed a treatment-dependent increase of inducible T-cell costimulator, human leukocyte antigen–antigen D related, and PD-1 during initial treatment, which returned to baseline during maintenance.

Conclusions and Relevance

Ipilimumab was tolerable in this population but did not show significant single-agent activity. Immune changes were induced by anti–CTLA-4 therapy but did not correlate with clinical activity. Changes in these markers may guide further treatment strategies.

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