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BMC Cancer. 2019 May 30;19(1):519. doi: 10.1186/s12885-019-5741-y.

Intracranial antitumor responses of nivolumab and ipilimumab: a pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic perspective, a scoping systematic review.

Author information

1
Division of Pharmacology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. m.v.bussel@nki.nl.
2
Department of Medical Oncology & Clinical Pharmacology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. m.v.bussel@nki.nl.
3
Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology, Netherlands Cancer Institute - Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
4
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology & Clinical Pharmacology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Universiteitsweg 99, 3584 CG, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
5
Department of Neuro-oncology, Netherlands Cancer Institute - Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Recently, two phase II trials showed intracranial activity of the immune checkpoint inhibitors nivolumab and ipilimumab in patients with melanoma brain metastases. However, it is generally assumed that large molecules like monoclonal antibodies nivolumab and ipilimumab cannot penetrate and pass an intact blood brain barrier (BBB). In this systematic review we provide a pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic consideration of the clinical activity of the immune checkpoint inhibitors nivolumab and ipilimumab in melanoma brain metastases.

METHODS:

Pubmed was systematically searched for prospective phase II and III studies on nivolumab and ipilimumab in melanoma brain metastases and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of nivolumab and ipilimumab. Results were discussed and a perspective on the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics for the intracranial activity of these agents was given.

RESULTS:

Two phase II studies with the combination nivolumab and ipilimumab and one phase II study with ipilimumab monotherapy in melanoma brain metastases were included in this review. One article reported drug levels of nivolumab in CSF. Intracranial responses were achieved in 16 of 35 patients (46%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 29-63) in a phase II study cohort treated with nivolumab and ipilimumab. In a second phase II study in 94 patients, the rate of intracranial clinical benefit was 57% (95% CI 47-68). The CSF/serum ratio of nivolumab was 0.88-1.9% in a cohort of metastatic melanoma patients treated with nivolumab 1-3 mg/kg. Nivolumab concentrations ranged from 35 to 150 ng/ml in CSF of these patients, which is in the range of the half maximal effective concentration (EC50) of 0.64 nM.

CONCLUSIONS:

Ipilimumab and nivolumab are active in melanoma brain metastases. Nivolumab penetrates into the CSF. Based on the described findings the general consensus that monoclonal antibodies do not penetrate into the central nervous system (CNS) and cannot have a direct intracranial effect needs to be reconsidered.

KEYWORDS:

Ipilimumab; Melanoma brain metastases; Neonatal fc receptor; Nivolumab; Pharmacodynamics; Pharmacokinetics

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