Programmed death 1 (PD-1) pathway inhibitors have not been prospectively evaluated in patients with non-clear cell renal cell carcinoma (nccRCC). The phase II KEYNOTE-427 study (cohort B) was conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of single-agent pembrolizumab, a PD-1 inhibitor, in advanced nccRCC.
Patients with histologically confirmed, measurable (Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors [RECIST] version 1.1) nccRCC and no prior systemic therapy received pembrolizumab 200 mg intravenously once every 3 weeks for ≤ 24 months. The primary end point was objective response rate (ORR) per RECIST v1.1.
Among enrolled patients (N = 165), 71.5% had confirmed papillary, 12.7% had chromophobe, and 15.8% had unclassified RCC histology. Most patients (67.9%) had intermediate or poor International Metastatic RCC Database Consortium risk status and tumors with programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) combined positive score (CPS) ≥ 1 (61.8%). The median time from enrollment to database cutoff was 31.5 months (range, 22.7-38.8). In all patients, the ORR was 26.7%. The median duration of response was 29.0 months; 59.7% of responses lasted ≥ 12 months. The ORR by CPS ≥ 1 and CPS < 1 status was 35.3% and 12.1%, respectively. The ORR by histology was 28.8% for papillary, 9.5% for chromophobe, and 30.8% for unclassified. Overall, the median progression-free survival was 4.2 months (95% CI, 2.9 to 5.6); the 24-month rate was 18.6%. The median overall survival was 28.9 months (95% CI, 24.3 months to not reached); the 24-month rate was 58.4%. Overall, 69.7% of patients reported treatment-related adverse events, most commonly pruritus (20.0%) and hypothyroidism (14.5%). Two deaths were treatment related (pneumonitis and cardiac arrest).
First-line pembrolizumab monotherapy showed promising antitumor activity in nccRCC. The safety profile was similar to that observed in other tumor types.