Article Abstract

Thymic tumors and immune checkpoint inhibitors

Authors: Shintaro Yokoyama, Hiroaki Miyoshi


Thymoma and thymic carcinoma, known as the most common features of thymic epithelial tumors (TETs), are thoracic malignancies displaying varied clinical features and prognosis. These neoplasms being frequently ineligible for surgical complete resection as a curative treatment because of extensive tumor spread, effectual nonsurgical treatments are needed; however, an optimal chemotherapeutic regimen has not been identified, although some regimens have been shown to be active. Immunotherapy is effective for other malignancies and may be promising as a therapeutic alternative for refractory TETs. Thus far, several studies have determined the expression of programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) and programmed death 1 (PD-1) in TETs, including its clinicopathological and prognostic significance. The results have been conflicting due to the different immunohistochemical antibodies employed and distinct cutoff values. However, many authors identified abundant PD-L1 expression in TETs, which is considered as an important predictive factor for therapeutic effect of PD-1 inhibitors in other malignant tumors. In some clinical trials, an acceptable clinical efficacy of PD-1 inhibitor for TETs has been reported as expected; however, concerns regarding immunological adverse events have been raised. To optimize these therapeutic agents for refractory TETs, additional studies which evaluate clinical availabilities of immunotherapeutic drugs and characterize