Sex-associated molecular differences for cancer immunotherapy

Youqiong Ye, Ying Jing, Liang Li, Gordon B. Mills, Lixia Diao, Hong Liu, Leng Han

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    32 Scopus citations


    Immune checkpoint blockade therapies have extended patient survival across multiple cancer lineages, but there is a heated debate on whether cancer immunotherapy efficacy is different between male and female patients. We summarize the existing meta-analysis to show inconsistent conclusions for whether gender is associated with the immunotherapy response. We analyze molecular profiling from ICB-treated patients to identify molecular differences for immunotherapy responsiveness. We perform comprehensive analyses for patients from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and reveal divergent patterns for sex bias in immune features across multiple cancer types. We further validate our observations in multiple independent data sets. Considering that the majority of clinical trials are in melanoma and lung cancer, meta-analyses that pool multiple cancer types have limitations to discern whether cancer immunotherapy efficacy is different between male and female patients. Future studies should include omics profiling to investigate sex-associated molecular differences in immunotherapy.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number1779
    JournalNature communications
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Chemistry(all)
    • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
    • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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