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Microsatellite instability and immune checkpoint inhibitors: toward precision medicine against gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary cancers

Authors
  • Eso, Yuji1
  • Shimizu, Takahiro1
  • Takeda, Haruhiko1
  • Takai, Atsushi1
  • Marusawa, Hiroyuki2
  • 1 Kyoto University,
  • 2 Osaka Red Cross Hospital,
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Gastroenterology
Publisher
Springer Japan
Publication Date
Sep 07, 2019
Volume
55
Issue
1
Pages
15–26
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00535-019-01620-7
PMID: 31494725
PMCID: PMC6942585
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Recent innovations in the next-generation sequencing technologies have unveiled that the accumulation of genetic alterations results in the transformation of normal cells into cancer cells. Accurate and timely repair of DNA is, therefore, essential for maintaining genetic stability. Among various DNA repair pathways, the mismatch repair (MMR) pathway plays a pivotal role. MMR deficiency leads to a molecular feature of microsatellite instability (MSI) and predisposes to cancer. Recent studies revealed that MSI-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair-deficient (dMMR) tumors, regardless of their primary site, have a promising response to immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), leading to the approval of the anti-programmed cell death protein 1 monoclonal antibody pembrolizumab for the treatment of advanced or recurrent MSI-H/dMMR solid tumors that continue to progress after conventional chemotherapies. This new indication marks a paradigm shift in the therapeutic strategy of cancers; however, when considering the optimum indication for ICIs and their safe and effective usage, it is important for clinicians to understand the genetic and immunologic features of each tumor. In this review, we describe the molecular basis of the MMR pathway, diagnostics of MSI status, and the clinical importance of MSI status and the tumor mutation burden in developing therapeutic strategies against gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary malignancies.

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