Introduction: Pharmacological inhibition of immune checkpoint receptors or their ligands represents a transformative breakthrough in the management of multiple cancers. However, immune checkpoint inhibitors have yet to be FDA-approved for the management of metastatic prostate cancer (PCa), the commonest non-cutaneous malignancy in men. Areas covered: We review our current understanding of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway in cancer, the use of anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapeutics in PCa, and potential subgroups of PCa patients who may derive the greatest benefit from these agents (such as men with tumors that have expression of PD-L1 and/or high mutational load). We also review the prior and current clinical trials evaluating the blockade of PD-1/PD-L1 in PCa, highlighting some of the key ongoing studies of greatest relevance to the field. Expert commentary: Clinical trials investigating PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors should be encouraged in patients with PCa. While it is unlikely that immune checkpoint monotherapies will produce long-lasting responses in a substantial proportion of patients, there is early evidence of activity in some patient subsets. These subgroups may include those with high PD-L1 expression, those with hypermutated or microsatellite-unstable tumors, and those enriched for germline and/or somatic DNA-repair gene mutations (e.g. intraductal/ductal histology, primary Gleason pattern 5, and perhaps AR-V7-positive tumors).
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
ES Antonarakis is partially supported by National Institutes of Health grants R01 CA185297 and P30 CA006973, and Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program grants W81XWH-15-2-0050.
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