Tumor liver samples from CM (n=38) and UM (n=28) patients were analyzed at the genomic (whole exome sequencing), transcriptional (RNA sequencing) and protein (immunohistochemistry and GeoMx Digital Spatial Profiling) level.
While TMB was different between CM and UM metastases, tumor immune infiltration was similar. The greater dependency on PD-L1 as an immune checkpoint in CM and the identification of higher exhaustion ratios in UM may both serve as explanations for the difference in response to ICB. Consequently, in order to improve current treatment for metastatic UM, reversal of T cell exhaustion beyond programmed cell death 1 blockade should be considered.
Comparison of CM and UM metastases from the same metastatic site revealed that, although originating from the same melanocyte lineage, CM and UM differed in somatic mutation profile, copy number profile, tumor mutational burden (TMB) and consequently predicted neoantigens. A higher melanin content and higher expression of the melanoma differentiation antigen MelanA was observed in liver metastases of UM patients. No difference in B2M and human leukocyte antigen-DR (HLA-DR) expression was observed. A higher expression of programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) was found in CM compared with UM liver metastases, although the majority of CM and UM liver metastases lacked PD-L1 expression. There was no difference in the extent of immune infiltration observed between CM and UM metastases, with the exception of a higher expression of CD163 (p<0.0001) in CM liver samples. While the extent of immune infiltration was similar for CM and UM metastases, the ratio of exhausted CD8 T cells to cytotoxic T cells, to total CD8 T cells and to Th1 cells, was significantly higher in UM metastases.
The profound disparity in response to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) by cutaneous melanoma (CM) and uveal melanoma (UM) patients is not well understood. Therefore, we characterized metastases of CM and UM from the same metastatic site (liver), in order to dissect the potential underlying mechanism in differential response on ICB.