Durable tumor regressions are observed in subset of advanced-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients receiving PD-1/-L1 targeted immune checkpoint inhibitors (or ‘immunotherapy’) alone or combined with chemotherapy. However, the majority of advanced NSCLC patients receiving these agents do not experience long-term disease control. Existing methods to identify patients most likely to clinical benefit from PD-1/-L1 immunotherapy have limitations, creating a need for improved methods to guide selection of this treatment strategy, particularly to identify patients likely to benefit from single-agent immunotherapy. Here, we describe the development of a series of novel assays for tumor-specific autoantibodies as part of an exploratory study intended to determine if these biomarkers have potential prognostic value in this setting.
A selection of recombinant tumor autoantigens previously characterized for their diagnostic utility were developed and preliminarily evaluated by this study. These include: Fumarate Dehydrogenase (FH), Hydroxysteroid 17-Beta Dehydrogenase 10 (HSD17B10), Inosine Monophosphate Dehydrogenase 2 (IMPDH2), New York Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma-1 (NY ESO-1), Phosphoglycerate Mutase 1 (PGAM1), and Vimentin. Custom Luminex immunobead assays were developed for these targets to quantitatively assess autoantibody production in individual patient sera. Assays were erected as indirect immunoassays on MagPlex® Microspheres using standard carbodiimide/NHS-based chemistries, utilizing a biotin-conjugated secondary (i.e. anti-human IgG) antibody and R-phycoerythrin-conjugated streptavidin reporter system. Standard curves were created for quantitative purposes using commercially-available anti-antigen antibodies and permitted analytical performance characteristics to be calculated. These assays were used to preliminarily evaluate a series pretreatment serum samples from stage IV NSCLC patients receiving anti PD-1/-L1 therapy after failure of at least one prior line of therapy (n = 40) and their classification efficiency calculated based on 12 months overall survival (OS) threshold.
Six assays were developed that showed dynamic range of four orders of magnitude and provided more than 90% classification accuracy based on the observed clinical outcome data. Inter- and intra-assay precision was assessed within these standards and overall %CVs of ≤7% and ≤ 10%, respectively, were calculated. Generally, the baseline level of autoantibodies were significantly (p < 0.05) lower in the ≥12 months survival group relative to the <12 months survival groups. Serum titers of FH, HSD170B, NY-ESO-1, and vimentin were significantly correlated with ≥12 month survival (p-value 0.0038, 0.0061, 0.0073, and 0.022, respectively). IMPDH2 and PGAM1 were found to have marginal significance (p-value 0.08 and 0.076, respectively).
This study demonstrates an efficient and promising means for assessing circulating autoantibody titers that could be useful in selecting advanced NSCLC patients for PD-1/-L1 directed immunotherapy. Further exploration and validation of this paradigm is warranted to advance current treatment selection methods for this therapeutic strategy.

Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier B.V.