Elevated glucocorticoid (GC) activity may limit tumor immune response and immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) efficacy. Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) provides a unique test case to assess correlates of GC activity, as approximately half of ACC patients exhibit excess GC production (GC+). ACC multi-omics were analyzed to identify molecular consequences of GC+ and assess the rationale for combining the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) antagonist relacorilant with an ICI. GC status, mRNA expression, and DNA mutation and methylation data from 71 adrenal tumors were accessed via The Cancer Genome Atlas. Expression of 858 genes differed significantly between GC- and GC+ ACC cases. KEGG pathway analysis showed higher gene expression of 3 pathways involved in steroid synthesis and secretion in GC+ cases. Fifteen pathways, most related to NK cells and other immune activity, showed lower expression. Hypomethylation was primarily observed in the steroid synthesis pathways. Tumor-infiltrating CD4+ memory (P=.003), CD8+ memory (P=.001), and NKT-cells (P=.014) were depleted in GC+ cases; tumor-associated neutrophils were enriched (P=.001). Given the pronounced differences between GC+ and GC- ACC, the effects of cortisol on NK cells were assessed in vitro (NK cells from human PBMCs stimulated with IL-2 or IL-12/15). Cortisol suppressed, and relacorilant restored, NK cell activation, proliferation, and direct tumor cell killing. Thus, GR antagonism may increase the abundance and function of NK and other immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, promoting immune response in GC+ ACC and other malignancies with GC+. This hypothesis will be tested in a phase 1 trial of relacorilant + ICI.
Andrew E. Greenstein, Mouhammed Amir Habra, Subhagya A. Wadekar, and Andreas Grauer
Ha Nguyen, Komal Shah, Steven G Waguespack, Mimi I Hu, Mouhammed Amir Habra, Maria E Cabanillas, Naifa L Busaidy, Roland Bassett, Shouhao Zhou, Priyanka C Iyer, Garrett Simmons, Diana Kaya, Marie Pitteloud, Sumit K Subudhi, Adi Diab, and Ramona Dadu
Data on the diagnosis, natural course and management of immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI)-related hypophysitis (irH) are limited. We propose this study to validate the diagnostic criteria, describe characteristics and hormonal recovery and investigate factors associated with the occurrence and recovery of irH. A retrospective study including patients with suspected irH at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center from 5/2003 to 8/2017 was conducted. IrH was defined as: (1) ACTH or TSH deficiency plus MRI changes or (2) ACTH and TSH deficiencies plus headache/fatigue in the absence of MRI findings. We found that of 83 patients followed for a median of 1.75 years (range 0.6–3), the proposed criteria used at initial evaluation accurately identified 61/62 (98%) irH cases. In the irH group (n = 62), the most common presentation was headache (60%), fatigue (66%), central hypothyroidism (94%), central adrenal insufficiency (69%) and MRI changes (77%). Compared with non-ipilimumab (ipi) regimens, ipi has a stronger association with irH occurrence (P = 0.004) and a shorter time to irH development (P < 0.01). Thyroid, gonadal and adrenal axis recovery occurred in 24, 58 and 0% patients, respectively. High-dose steroids (HDS) or ICI discontinuation was not associated with hormonal recovery. In the non-irH group (n = 19), one patient had isolated central hypothyroidism and six had isolated central adrenal insufficiency. All remained on hormone therapy at the last follow-up. We propose a strict definition of irH that identifies the vast majority of patients. HDS and ICI discontinuation is not always beneficial. Long-term follow-up to assess recovery is needed.