Cirrhosis is a high-risk state for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development and represents an opportunity to prevent cancer. In the precancerous state of cirrhosis, there is an accumulation of neoantigens that may be specifically target-able through immunotherapy. We asked whether immune checkpoint inhibition could prevent tumorigenesis in a mouse model of diethylnitrosamine and carbon tetrachloride–induced HCC. We found that initiation of anti-PD-1 therapy prior to tumorigenesis could prevent up to 46% of liver tumors. This significant reduction in tumor burden was accompanied by infiltration of CD4þ Th cells and CD8þ cytotoxic T cells into the liver parenchyma. Importantly, anti-PD-1 therapy did not exacerbate liver dysfunction or worsen overall health in this liver disease model. Given the safety and preservation of quality of life observed with long-term immunotherapy use, an immunotherapy chemoprevention strategy is likely associated with a low risk-to-benefit ratio and high value care in select patients. These results encourage a prevention trial in cirrhotic patients with the highest risk of developing HCC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research