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Red blood cell transfusions impact response rates to immunotherapy in patients with solid malignant tumors.

Frontiers in immunology

Authors: Rebekka Mispelbaum, Sandra Tessa Hattenhauer, Peter Brossart, Annkristin Heine

Red blood cell (RBC) transfusions have been shown to exert immunosuppressive effects in different diseases. In consequence, RBC transfusions might also negatively influence the response to immunotherapeutic treatment approaches. To address how RBC transfusions impact response rates of antitumor immunotherapy (IT), we conducted a retrolective clinical study of patients with different solid tumors treated with IT (atezolizumab, pembrolizumab, nivolumab and/or ipilimumab). We assessed the number of RBC concentrates received within 30 days before and 60 days after the start of IT. Primary objective was the initial therapy response at first staging, secondary objectives the number of immune related adverse events and infections. 15 of 55 included patients (27.3%) received RBC concentrates. The response rates were 77.5% in the non-transfused (n=40) versus 46.7% in the transfused patient group (n=15) and reached statistical significance (p=0.047). The correlation between therapy response and transfusion was statistically significant (p=0.026) after adjustment for the only identified confounder "line of therapy". In contrast, transfusion in the interval 30 days before IT showed no significant difference for treatment response (p=0.705). Moreover, no correlation was detected between RBC transfusion and irAE rate (p=0.149) or infection rate (p=0.135). In conclusion, we show for the first time that the administration of RBC transfusions during, but not before initiation of IT treatment, negatively influences the response rates to IT. Our findings suggest a restrictive transfusion management in patients undergoing IT to receive optimal response rates.

Copyright © 2022 Mispelbaum, Hattenhauer, Brossart and Heine.

PMID: 36159812

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