Vitiligo-specific soluble biomarkers as early indicators of response to immune checkpoint inhibitors in metastatic melanoma patients

Maria Luigia Carbone, Gabriele Madonna, Alessia Capone, Marianna Bove, Simona Mastroeni, Lauretta Levati, Mariaelena Capone, Paolo Antonio Ascierto, Federica De Galitiis, Stefania D'Atri, Cristina Fortes, Elisabetta Volpe, Cristina Maria Failla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Immunotherapy with checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs) strongly improved the outcome of metastatic melanoma patients. However, not all the patients respond to treatment and identification of prognostic biomarkers able to select responding patients is currently of outmost importance. Considering that development of vitiligo-like depigmentation in melanoma patients represents both an adverse event of CPIs and a favorable prognostic factor, we analyzed soluble biomarkers of vitiligo to validate them as early indicators of response to CPIs. Fifty-seven metastatic melanoma patients receiving CPIs were enrolled and divided according to the best overall response to treatment. Patient sera were evaluated at pre-treatment and after 1 and 3 months of therapy. We found that basal CD25 serum levels were higher in stable and responding patients and remained higher during the first 3 months of CPI therapy compared to non-responders. CXCL9 was absent in non-responding patients before therapy beginning. Moreover, an increase of CXCL9 levels was observed at 1 and 3 months of therapy for all patients, although higher CXCL9 amounts were present in stable and responding compared to non-responding patients. Variations in circulating immune cell subsets was also analyzed, revealing a reduced number of regulatory T lymphocytes in responding patients. Altogether, our data indicate that a pre-existing and maintained activation of the immune system could be an indication of response to CPI treatment in melanoma patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5448
JournalSci. Rep.
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 31 2022


  • Biomarkers
  • Humans
  • Hypopigmentation
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors/therapeutic use
  • Melanoma/pathology
  • Vitiligo


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