Journal Articles

Publication Date



Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer


BACKGROUND: Immune checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionized cancer treatment. However, they are associated with a unique spectrum of side effects, called immune-related adverse events (irAEs), which can cause significant morbidity and quickly progress to severe or life-threatening events if not treated promptly. Identifying predictive biomarkers for irAEs before immunotherapy initiation is therefore a critical area of research. Polymorphisms within the T-cell receptor beta (TCRB) variable (TRBV) gene have been implicated in autoimmune disease and may be mechanistically linked to irAEs. However, the repetitive nature of the TCRB locus and incomplete genome assembly has hampered the evaluation of TRBV polymorphisms in the past.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: We used a novel method for long-amplicon next generation sequencing of rearranged TCRB chains from peripheral blood total RNA to evaluate the link between TRBV polymorphisms and irAEs in patients treated with immunotherapy for cancer. We employed multiplex PCR to create amplicons spanning the three beta chain complementarity-determining regions (CDR) regions to enable detection of polymorphism within the germline-encoded framework and CDR1 and CDR2 regions in addition to CDR3 profiling. Resultant amplicons were sequenced via the Ion torrent and TRBV allele profiles constructed for each individual was correlated with irAE annotations to identify haplotypes associated with severe irAEs (≥ grade 3).

RESULTS: Our study included 81 patients who had irAEs when treated with immunotherapy for cancer. By using principal component analysis of the 81 TRBV allele profiles followed by k-means clustering, we identified six major TRBV haplotypes. Strikingly, we found that one-third of this cohort possessed a TRBV allele haplotype that appeared to be protective against severe irAEs.

CONCLUSION: The data suggest that long-amplicon TCRB repertoire sequencing can potentially identify TRBV haplotype groups that correlate with the risk of severe irAEs. Germline-encoded TRBV polymorphisms may serve as a predictive biomarker of severe irAEs.


Humans, Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors, Immunotherapy, Autoimmune Diseases, Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell



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