Total serum N-glycans associate with response to immune checkpoint inhibition therapy and survival in patients with advanced melanoma

Link to paper

Visconti A, Rossi N, Deriš H, Lee KA, Hanić M, Trbojević-Akmačić I, Thomas AM, Bolte LA, Björk JR, Hooiveld-Noeken JS, Board R, Harland M, Newton-Bishop J, Harries M, Sacco JJ, Lorigan P, Shaw HM, Vries EGE de, Fehrmann RSN, Weersma RK, Spector TD, Nathan P, Hospers GAP, Sasieni P, Bataille V, Lauc G, Falchi M


Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have revolutionized the treatment of melanoma and other cancers. However, no reliable biomarker of survival or response has entered the clinic to identify those patients with melanoma who are most likely to benefit from ICIs. Glycosylation affects proteins and lipids’ structure and functions. Tumours are characterized by aberrant glycosylation which may contribute to their progression and hinder an effective antitumour immune response.


We aim at identifying novel glyco-markers of response and survival by leveraging the N-glycome of total serum proteins collected in 88 ICI-naive patients with advanced melanoma from two European countries. Samples were collected before and during ICI treatment.


We observe that responders to ICIs present with a pre-treatment N-glycome profile significantly shifted towards higher abundancy of low-branched structures containing lower abundances of antennary fucose, and that this profile is positively associated with survival and a better predictor of response than clinical variables alone.


While changes in serum protein glycosylation have been previously implicated in a pro-metastatic melanoma behaviour, we show here that they are also associated with response to ICI, opening new avenues for the stratification of patients and the design of adjunct therapies aiming at improving immune response.