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Ann Oncol. 2016 Jul;27(7):1304-11. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdw160. Epub 2016 Apr 7.

Safety and clinical activity of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR)-tyrosine kinase inhibitors after programmed cell death 1 inhibitor treatment in patients with metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma.

Author information

The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore.
Department of Oncology, Levine Cancer Institute, Charlotte.
Fox Chase Cancer Center-Temple University Health System, Philadelphia.
Department of Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, Boston.
Department of Hematology and Oncology, Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, Cleveland, USA.
The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore



Emerging agents blocking the programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) pathway show activity in metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)/VEGF receptor (VEGFR)-tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy after PD-1 inhibition.


Patients with mRCC treated with anti-PD-1 antibody (aPD-1) monotherapy or in combination (with VEGFR-TKI or ipilimumab) that subsequently received VEGFR-TKI were retrospectively reviewed. The efficacy end points were objective response rate (ORR) and progression-free survival (PFS) stratified by the type of prior PD-1 regimen. Safety by the type and PD-1 exposure was also evaluated.


Seventy patients were included. Forty-nine patients received prior therapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs) alone and 21 had combination therapy of aPD-1 and VEGFR-TKI. Overall, ORR to VEGFR-TKI after PD-1 inhibition was 28% (19/68) and the median PFS was 6.4 months (mo) (4.3-9.5). ORR to VEGFR-TKI after aPD-1 in combination with VEGFR-TKI was lower than that in patients treated with VEGFR-TKI after CPI alone (ORR 10% versus 36%, P = 0.039). In the multivariable analysis, patients treated with prior CPI alone were more likely to achieve an objective response than those treated with aPD-1 in combination with VEGFR-TKI (OR = 5.38; 95% CI 1.12-26.0, P = 0.03). There was a trend toward numerically longer median PFS in the VEGFR-TKI after the CPI alone group, 8.4 mo (3.2-12.4) compared with 5.5 mo (2.9-8.3) for those who had VEGFR-TKI after aPD-1 in combination with VEGFR-TKI (P = 0.15). The most common adverse events (AEs) were asthenia, hypertension, and diarrhea.


The efficacy and safety of VEGFR-TKIs after PD-1 inhibition were demonstrated in this retrospective study. The response rate was lower and the median progression-free survival was shorter in those patients who received prior PD-1 in combination with VEGFR-TKI. PD-1 exposure does not seem to significantly influence the safety of subsequent VEGFR-TKI treatment.


PD-1 inhibitor; ipilimumab; nivolumab; renal cell carcinoma; vascular endothelial growth factor receptor–tyrosine kinase inhibitor

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