The advanced lung cancer inflammation index [ALI: body mass index × serum albumin/neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR)] reflects systemic host inflammation, and is easily reproducible. We hypothesized that ALI could assist guidance of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs).
This retrospective study included 672 stage IV NSCLC patients treated with programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) inhibitors alone or in combination with chemotherapy in 25 centers in Greece and Germany, and a control cohort of 444 stage IV NSCLC patients treated with platinum-based chemotherapy without subsequent targeted or immunotherapy drugs. The association of clinical outcomes with biomarkers was analyzed with Cox regression models, including cross-validation by calculation of the Harrell’s C-index.
High ALI values (>18) were significantly associated with longer overall survival (OS) for patients receiving ICI monotherapy [hazard ratio (HR) = 0.402, P < 0.0001, n = 460], but not chemo-immunotherapy (HR = 0.624, P = 0.111, n = 212). Similar positive correlations for ALI were observed for objective response rate (36% versus 24%, P = 0.008) and time-on-treatment (HR = 0.52, P < 0.001), in case of ICI monotherapy only. In the control cohort of chemotherapy, the association between ALI and OS was weaker (HR = 0.694, P = 0.0002), and showed a significant interaction with the type of treatment (ICI monotherapy versus chemotherapy, P 18 identified a subset with longer OS and time-on-treatment (median 35 and 16 months, respectively), similar to these under chemo-immunotherapy.
The ALI score is a powerful prognostic and predictive biomarker for patients with advanced NSCLC treated with PD-L1 inhibitors alone, but not in combination with chemotherapy. Its association with outcomes appears to be stronger than that of other widely used parameters. For PD-L1-high patients, an ALI score >18 could assist the selection of cases that do not need addition of chemotherapy.

Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.