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01.12.2019 | Review | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

Journal of Hematology & Oncology 1/2019

Mismatch repair deficiency/microsatellite instability-high as a predictor for anti-PD-1/PD-L1 immunotherapy efficacy

Journal of Hematology & Oncology > Ausgabe 1/2019
Pengfei Zhao, Li Li, Xiaoyue Jiang, Qin Li
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13045-019-0738-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Pengfei Zhao and Li Li contributed equally to this work.

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Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


Immunotherapies have led to substantial changes in cancer treatment and have been a persistently popular topic in cancer research because they tremendously improve the efficacy of treatment and survival of individuals with various cancer types. However, only a small proportion of patients are sensitive to immunotherapy, and specific biomarkers are urgently needed to separate responders from nonresponders. Mismatch repair pathways play a vital role in identifying and repairing mismatched bases during DNA replication and genetic recombination in normal and cancer cells. Defects in DNA mismatch repair proteins and subsequent microsatellite instability-high lead to the accumulation of mutation loads in cancer-related genes and the generation of neoantigens, which stimulate the anti-tumor immune response of the host. Mismatch repair deficiency/microsatellite instability-high represents a good prognosis in early colorectal cancer settings without adjuvant treatment and a poor prognosis in patients with metastasis. Several clinical trials have demonstrated that mismatch repair deficiency or microsatellite instability-high is significantly associated with long-term immunotherapy-related responses and better prognosis in colorectal and noncolorectal malignancies treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors. To date, the anti-programmed cell death-1 inhibitor pembrolizumab has been approved for mismatch repair deficiency/microsatellite instability-high refractory or metastatic solid tumors, and nivolumab has been approved for colorectal cancer patients with mismatch repair deficiency/microsatellite instability-high. This is the first time in the history of cancer therapy that the same biomarker has been used to guide immune therapy regardless of tumor type. This review summarizes the features of mismatch repair deficiency/microsatellite instability-high, its relationship with programmed death-ligand 1/programmed cell death-1, and the recent advances in predicting immunotherapy efficacy.

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