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558 Programmed death (PD)-1 and PD-ligand-1 inhibitors in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer: a systematic review of their efficacy and safety
  1. Melissa Lingohr-Smith,
  2. Chelsea Deitelzweig,
  3. Grace Lin and
  4. Jay Lin
  1. Novosys Health


Background Treatment advances have been made in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with the development and approval of programmed death (PD)-1 and PD-ligand 1 (PD-L1) inhibitors. PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors may be used as monotherapies or in combination with other agents and have been shown to improve NSCLC patient outcomes in clinical trials. We conducted a systematic search to compare the efficacy and safety of PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors in the treatment of NSCLC.

Methods A systematic literature search of PubMed was conducted to identify phase III clinical trials in which the efficacy of PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors in the treatment of NSCLC was evaluated. PD-1 inhibitors included nivolumab and pembrolizumab; PD-L1 inhibitors included atezolizumab, avelumab, and durvalumab. Patient characteristics and efficacy data were extracted.

Results Sixteen phase III clinical trials were identified (nivolumab=4; pembrolizumab=5; atezolizumab=5; avelumab=1; durvalumab=1). Across the 3 nivolumab monotherapy trials (n=638; median ages: 61–63 years), median progression-free survival (PFS) ranged 2.3–4.2 months; response rates ranged 19%-26%; grade 3/4 adverse events occurred in 7%-18% of patients. Nivolumab in combination with iplimumab (n=583; median age: 64 years) had a median PFS of 5.1 months and response rate of 33%; grade 3/4 adverse events occurred in 33% of patients. Across the 3 pembrolizumab monotherapy trials (n=1,481; median ages: 63–64 years), median PFS ranged 3.9–10.3 months; response rates ranged 18%-45%; grade ≥3 adverse events occurred in 13%-27% of patients. In the 2 pembrolizumab combination therapy trials (n=688; median ages: 65 years), median PFS ranged 6.4–8.8 months; response rates ranged 48%-58%; grade ≥3 adverse events occurred in 67%-70% of patients. In the 4 atezolizumab combination therapy trials (n=1,486; median ages: 63–64 years), median PFS ranged 6.3–8.3 months; response rates ranged 47%-63.5%; grade 3/4 adverse events occurred in 54%-73% of patients. In the 3 monotherapy trials of atezolizumab (n=613; median age: 63 years), avelumab (n=396; median age: 64 years), and durvalumab (n=476; median age: 64 years), the median months of PFS were 2.7, 2.8, and 17.2, respectively; response rates were 14%, 15%, and 30%, respectively; grade ≥3 adverse events occurred in 15%, 10%, and 30.5% of patients, respectively.

Conclusions Although treatment responses varied, most of the evaluated PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors were associated with a clinical benefit for NSCLC trial patients. Generally, treatment efficacy was greater with combination therapies, but adverse events occurred more frequently. Innovations in the targeting/personalization of PD-1/PD-L1 combination therapies will likely lead to improved NSCLC patient outcomes and further research is needed in this regard.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

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