DOI: 10.3390/cancers16010133 ISSN: 2072-6694

Antibiotic Exposure Concurrently with Anti-PD1 Blockade Therapy Reduces Overall Survival in Patients with Child–Pugh Class A Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Kanan Alshammari, Faizah M. Alotaibi, Futoon Alsugheir, Mohammad Aldawoud, Ashwaq Alolayan, Mohammed Ahmad Algarni, Fouad Sabatin, Mohammad F. Mohammad, Abdulaziz Alosaimi, Faisal M. Sanai, Hassan Odah, Ahmed Saleh Alshehri, Omar S. Aldibasi, Samah Alrehaily, Abdullah S. Al Saleh
  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide with a poor prognosis. Treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) has improved overall survival in patients with HCC. However, not all patients benefit from the treatment. In this study, 59 patients with HCC were enrolled from two medical centers in Saudi Arabia, with 34% using antibiotics concurrently with their Nivolumab (anti-PD1 blockade). The impact of antibiotic use on the clinical outcomes of patients with HCC undergoing treatment with anti-PD1 blockade was examined. The patients’ overall survival (OS) was 5 months (95% CI: 3.2, 6.7) compared to 10 months (95% CI: 0, 22.2) (p = 0.08). Notably, patients with Child–Pugh A cirrhosis receiving anti-PD1 blockade treatment without concurrent antibiotic use showed a significantly longer median OS reaching 22 months (95% CI: 6.5, 37.4) compared to those who were given antibiotics with a median OS of 6 months (95% CI: 2.7, 9.2) (p = 0.02). This difference in overall survival was particularly found in Child–Pugh class A patients receiving anti-PD1 blockade. These findings suggest that antibiotic use may negatively affect survival outcomes in HCC patients undergoing anti-PD1 blockade, potentially due to antibiotic-induced alterations to the gut microbiome impacting the anti-PD1 blockade response. This study suggests the need for careful consideration when prescribing antibiotics to patients with HCC receiving anti-PD1 blockade.

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