Purpose: Increased b-adrenergic receptor (b-AR) signaling has been shown to promote the creation of an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME). Preclinical studies have shown that abrogation of this signaling pathway, particularly b2-AR, provides a more favorable TME that enhances the activity of anti–PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors. We hypothesize that blocking stress-related immunosuppressive pathways would improve tumor response to immune checkpoint inhibitors in patients. Here, we report the results of dose escalation of a nonselective b-blocker (propranolol) with pembrolizumab in patients with metastatic melanoma. Patients and Methods: A 3 þ 3 dose escalation study for propranolol twice a day with pembrolizumab (200 mg every 3 weeks) was completed. The primary objective was to determine the recommended phase II dose (RP2D). Additional objectives included safety, antitumor activity, and biomarker analyses. Responders were defined as patients with complete or partial response per immune-modified RECIST at 6 months. Results: Nine patients with metastatic melanoma received increasing doses of propranolol in cohorts of 10, 20, and 30 mg twice a day. No dose-limiting toxicities were observed. Most common treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) were rash, fatigue, and vitiligo, observed in 44% patients. One patient developed two grade ≥3 TRAEs. Objective response rate was 78%. While no significant changes in treatment-associated biomarkers were observed, an increase in IFNg and a decrease in IL6 was noted in responders. Conclusions: Combination of propranolol with pembrolizumab in treatment-nave metastatic melanoma is safe and shows very promising activity. Propranolol 30 mg twice a day was selected as RP2D in addition to pembrolizumab based on safety, tolerability, and preliminary antitumor activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research