T cell Bim levels reflect responses to anti–PD-1 cancer therapy

Roxana S. Dronca, Xin Liu, Susan M. Harrington, Lingling Chen, Siyu Cao, Lisa A. Kottschade, Robert R. McWilliams, Matthew S Block, Wendy K. Nevala, Michael A. Thompson, Aaron S. Mansfield, Sean S. Park, Svetomir Nenad Markovic, Haidong M Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Immune checkpoint therapy with PD-1 blockade has emerged as an effective therapy for many advanced cancers; however, only a small fraction of patients achieve durable responses. To date, there is no validated blood-based means of predicting the response to PD-1 blockade. We report that Bim is a downstream signaling molecule of the PD-1 pathway, and its detection in T cells is significantly associated with expression of PD-1 and effector T cell markers. High levels of Bim in circulating tumor-reactive (PD-1+CD11ahiCD8+) T cells were prognostic of poor survival in patients with metastatic melanoma who did not receive anti–PD-1 therapy and were also predictive of clinical benefit in patients with metastatic melanoma who were treated with anti–PD-1 therapy. Moreover, this circulating tumor-reactive T cell population significantly decreased after successful anti–PD-1 therapy. Our study supports a crucial role of Bim in both T cell activation and apoptosis as regulated by PD-1 and PD-L1 interactions in effector CD8+ T cells. Measurement of Bim levels in circulating T cells of patients with cancer may provide a less invasive strategy to predict and monitor responses to anti–PD-1 therapy, although future prospective analyses are needed to validate its utility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere86014
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 5 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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