A Retrospective Study of Ipilimumab Plus Nivolumab in Anti-PD-L1/PD-1 Refractory Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel Cell Carcinoma
We present a dual-institution retrospective study of Ipi/Nivo in refractory MCC. This was published in The Journal of Immunotherapy, July 2022.

Sophia Z. Shalhout, Kevin S Emerick, Howard L Kaufman, Ann W Silk, Manisha Thakuria, David M. Miller


July 27, 2022



Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a very rare but highly aggressive cutaneous neuroendocrine carcinoma and is associated with chronic exposure to ultraviolet light and the Merkel cell polyoma virus. The incidence rate of MCC is increasing and MCC is associated with high rates of recurrence and mortality. Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) offer durable responses and significant clinical benefit with 2 agents-avelumab (anti-PD-L1) and pembrolizumab (anti-PD-1)—currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of advanced MCC. Despite the advances in systemic therapy options for MCC, ~50% of patients with advanced MCC treated with ICI progress on therapy. There is a paucity of studies assessing second-line systemic therapy following primary/acquired resistance to ICIs. Current management in this setting remains a clinical challenge especially in trial ineligible patients. We evaluated objective response to ipilimumab plus nivolumab in metastatic MCC refractory to anti-PD-(L)1 therapy. Thirty-one percent of patients experienced a grade III or grade IV immune-related adverse event (irAE) due to ipilimumab plus nivolumab. No patients (0/13) achieved a complete or partial response via RECISTv1.1/irRECIST. Twenty-three percent (3/13) of patients achieved stable disease as the best overall response but progressed shortly thereafter. The median progression-free survival was 1.3 months (90% CI 1.1–1.5) from the initiation of ipi-nivo. The median overall survival was 4.7 months (95% CI 3–17). This study suggests limited, if any, clinical benefit of ipi-nivo in patients with advanced anti-PD-L1/anti-PD-1 refractory MCC..


Shalhout, Sophia Z., Kevin S. Emerick, Howard L. Kaufman, Ann W. Silk, Manisha Thakuria, and David M. Miller. 2022. "A Retrospective Study of Ipilimumab Plus Nivolumab in Anti-PD-L1/PD-1 Refractory Merkel Cell Carcinoma."Journal of Immunotherapy 45 (7): 299–302. https://doi.org/10.1097/cji.0000000000000432.