Article Text

Download PDFPDF

646 Evaluating a preclinical model of contact hypersensitivity for skin immune checkpoint toxicity
  1. Barbara Ma1,
  2. Abhinav Jaiswal2,
  3. K Sanjana Devi2,
  4. Qingrong Huang2,
  5. Joy Hsu2,
  6. Yong Liu2 and
  7. Niroshana Anandasabapathy2
  1. 1New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, USA
  2. 2Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY, USA


Background Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) are limited by the high incidence of immune-related adverse events (irAEs) occurring in up to 40% of solid tumor patients on anti-PD-1 monotherapy 1 2 and 72% in anti-CTLA-4/anti-PD-1 combination.3 4 These toxicities can cause treatment cessation, hospitalization and even death.5–7 IrAEs are variable in severity, timing, onset, and remain poorly understood. Amongst the different toxicities, skin irAEs are most frequent, occur the earliest, and are correlated with a positive prognosis.4 8 However, there is a lack of preclinical models to study checkpoint toxicity. We evaluated a murine model of allergic contact dermatitis (contact hypersensitivity to 2,4-dinitrofluorobenzene) that is mediated by CD8+ T cells to gain a mechanistic understanding of skin checkpoint toxicity.

Methods C57BL/6 mice (n = 5 per group) were sensitized epicutaneously on shaved flank with hapten 0.5% DNFB on day -5 and elicited on their ears with DNFB on day 0. Starting four weeks later, mice were treated with either anti-programmed cell death protein (PD-1) or isotype. At the time of the first recall challenge only, mice were given either anti-PD-1 or isotype. Mice received subsequent rechallenges with DNFB to the ears and ear swelling was measured at various time points. Mice were depleted of circulating or skin CD8+ T cells by anti-CD8 mAbs from day 29 onwards, and maintained weekly, as in this model CD8+ T cells are the main hapten responder population. Samples were collected for histochemistry and analyzed by flow cytometry.

Results Our data indicate that despite the depletion of circulating T cells, anti-PD-1 recipients mount a higher initial recall response to contact agents. Higher ear swelling was observed with increased inflammation in these mice. Our data suggest anti-PD-1 can liberate local T cell responses in the absence of a contribution from blood, and may offer a model to test therapeutic interventions to alleviate peripheral immune toxicities.

Conclusions Our results suggest that this murine model of contact hypersensitivity represents a potential model for skin immune checkpoint toxicities. This model of locally-mediated inflammatory recall may advance the goal of uncoupling toxicity from efficacy in patients with immune-related adverse events.

Ethics Approval The animal study was approved by Weill Cornell Medicine’s IACUC; approval number D16-00186.


  1. Naidoo J, Page DB, Li BT, et al. Toxicities of the anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint antibodies. Ann Oncol 2015;26(12):2375–91. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdv383.

  2. Belum VR, Benhuri B, Postow MA, et al. Characterisation and management of dermatologic adverse events to agents targeting the PD-1 receptor. Eur J Cancer 2016;60:12–25. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2016.02.010.

  3. Postow MA, Sidlow R, Hellmann MD. Immune-Related Adverse Events Associated with Immune Checkpoint Blockade. N Engl J Med 2018;378(2):158–168. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1703481.

  4. Martins F, Sofiya L, Sykiotis GP, et al. Adverse effects of immune-checkpoint inhibitors: epidemiology, management and surveillance. Nat Rev Clin Oncol 2019;16(9):563–580. doi: 10.1038/s41571-019-0218-0.

  5. Puzanov I, Diab A, Abdallah K, et al. Managing toxicities associated with immune checkpoint inhibitors: consensus recommendations from the society for immunotherapy of cancer (SITC) Toxicity Management Working Group. J Immunother Cancer 2017;5(1):95. doi: 10.1186/s40425-017-0300-z.

  6. Wills B, Brahmer JR, Naidoo J. Treatment of complications from immune checkpoint inhibition in patients with lung cancer. Curr Treat Options Oncol 2018;19(9):46. doi: 10.1007/s11864-018-0562-9.

  7. Michot JM, Bigenwald C, Champiat S, et al. Immune-related adverse events with immune checkpoint blockade: a comprehensive review. Eur J Cancer 2016;54:139–148. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2015.11.016.

  8. Phillips GS, Wu J, Hellmann MD, et al. Treatment outcomes of immune-related cutaneous adverse events. J Clin Oncol 2019:JCO1802141. doi: 10.1200/JCO.18.02141.

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:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.