Comparative efficacy and safety of PD-1/PD-L1 Inhibitors versus platinum-based chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer: a meta analysis of randomized controlled trials

Lung Cancer

Pharmacol Res. 2020 Sep 13:105194. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2020.105194. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: The main aim of this study was to systematically evaluate the efficacy and safety of inhibitors of programmed cell death receptor 1 (PD-1) and its ligand, programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1), in the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

METHODS: Randomized controlled trials assessing the efficacy of PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors relative to platinum-based chemotherapy for advanced NSCLC in PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane libraries from 2015 to 2020 were searched, along with review of studies at American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and European society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). Pooled hazard ratios (HR) for progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) and odds ratios (OR) for adverse events (AE) were calculated using STATA and Revman software.

RESULTS: PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors alone or combined with chemotherapy significantly improved OS (HR = 0.82, 95% CI:0.74-0.91, P = 0.01 or HR = 0.74, 95% CI:0.67-0.82, P = 0.001). PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors alone did not benefit PFS (HR = 0.99, 95% CI: 0.89-1.10, P = 0.892), while combination therapy led to prolonged PFS (HR = 0.61, 95% CI: 0.56-0.67, P < 0.001). Subgroup analysis showed that in NSCLC with PD-L1 ≥ 50%, treatment with PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors alone significantly improved both PFS and OS. In patients subjected to the combined treatment regimen, we observed significant differences in PFS among groups stratified by PD-L1 expression (p < 0.001), immune drug type (p = 0.029), gender (p = 0.014) and liver metastasis (p = 0.035) and OS among groups stratified by immune drug type (p < 0.001), gender (P = 0.001) and smoking status (P = 0.041). Safety analysis showed that combination therapy increased chemotherapy-induced adverse events (AE), while PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors alone were associated with a lower incidence of any grade of treatment-related AEs (TRAE). A higher incidence of Grade 3-5 TRAEs and hypothyroidism was observed with PD-1 inhibitors than PD-L1 inhibitors.

CONCLUSIONS: First-line treatment of advanced NSCLC with immune monotherapy or immunochemotherapy confers a greater survival benefit than chemotherapy alone. Combination of chemotherapy with PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors leads to an increase in adverse events, and PD-1 inhibitors offer enhanced survival benefits and fewer adverse events than PD-L1 inhibitors. Remarkably, female patients undergoing combination therapy had longer overall survival than male patients.