Checkpoint Inhibitors and Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Efficacy and Safety of Pembrolizumab in Relapsed/Refractory Tumor (Experience at the NI Pirogov Russian National Medical Center of Surgery)

VO Sarzhevskii, EA Demina, NE Mochkin, AA Spornik, AA Mamedova, EG Smirnova, AE Bannikova, AA Samoilova, VS Bogatyrev, VYa Melnichenko

NI Pirogov Russian National Medical Center of Surgery, 70 Nizhnyaya Pervomaiskaya str., Moscow, Russian Federation, 105203

For correspondence: Prof. Vladislav Olegovich Sarzhevskii, MD, PhD, 70 Nizhnyaya Pervomaiskaya str., Moscow, Russian Federation, 105203; Tel.: +7(495)603-72-17; e-mail:

For citation: Sarzhevskii VO, Demina EA, Mochkin NE, et al. Checkpoint Inhibitors and Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Efficacy and Safety of Pembrolizumab in Relapsed/Refractory Tumor (Experience at the NI Pirogov Russian National Medical Center of Surgery). Clinical oncohematology. 2021;14(1):53–62. (In Russ).

DOI: 10.21320/2500-2139-2021-14-1-53-62


Background. Checkpoint inhibitors contribute to improving the treatment outcomes in patients with relapsed/refractory classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cHL). The paper describes the first generalized experience with pembrolizumab-inducing cHL immunotherapy in Russia. The hallmark of the study is a long follow-up period.

Aim. To retrospectively assess efficacy and safety of pembrolizumab-inducing immunotherapy of relapsed/refractory cHL.

Materials & Methods. The study enrolled 14 cHL patients: 3 men and 11 women aged 24–57 years (median 33 years). Pembrolizumab 200 mg or 2 mg/kg was intravenously administered every 3 weeks. Median pembrolizumab administration number was 27 (max. 52 administrations), median follow-up after immunotherapy onset was 31 months.

Results. Complete response (as best response) was achieved in 8 (57 %) patients, 3 (21 %) patients showed partial response (as best response). Overall objective response was 78 %. Median number of pembrolizumab administrations resulting in better responses to immunotherapy was 4, which corresponded to 3 months of treatment. Maximum number of pembrolizumab administrations before achieving best response was 32. Best response duration (the period from achieving it to disease progression/relapse or to the end-point of data collection in case of sustained response) varied from 3 to 56 months (median 15 months). Most common severe adverse events of grade 3–4 were pulmonary complications. Overall survival for 12, 24, and 36 months was 92.9 %, 85.7 %, and 85.7 %, respectively, and progression-free survival was 76.9 %, 59.3 %, and 37.1 %, respectively; median time before progression was 27.7 months.

Conclusion. The experience with pembrolizumab-inducing immunotherapy of relapsed/refractory cHL in Russia proves the efficacy and relative safety of this treatment approach. Due to long follow-up period a series of crucial practical immunotherapy-related issues were raised, which will need to be dealt with in future studies.

Keywords: сheckpoint inhibitors, immunotherapy, classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma, pembrolizumab.

Received: September 7, 2020

Accepted: December 2, 2020

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