Tertiary lymphoid structures (TLSs) are associated with anti-tumor response following immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapy, but a commensurate observation of TLS is absent for immune related adverse events (irAEs) i.e. acute interstitial nephritis (AIN). We hypothesized that TLS-associated inflammatory gene signatures are present in AIN and performed NanoString-based gene expression and multiplex 12-chemokine profiling on paired kidney tissue, urine and plasma specimens of 36 participants who developed acute kidney injury (AKI) on ICI therapy: AIN (18), acute tubular necrosis (9), or HTN nephrosclerosis (9). Increased T and B cell scores, a Th1-CD8+ T cell axis accompanied by interferon-g and TNF superfamily signatures were detected in the ICI-AIN group. TLS signatures were significantly increased in AIN cases and supported by histopathological identification. Furthermore, urinary TLS signature scores correlated with ICI-AIN diagnosis but not paired plasma. Urinary CXCL9 correlated best to tissue CXCL9 expression (rho 0.75, p < 0.001) and the ability to discriminate AIN vs. non-AIN (AUC 0.781, p-value 0.003). For the first time, we report the presence of TLS signatures in irAEs, define distinctive immune signatures, identify chemokine markers distinguishing ICI-AIN from common AKI etiologies and demonstrate that urine chemokine markers may be used as a surrogate for ICI-AIN diagnoses.


Shailbala Singh, James P. Long, Amanda Tchakarov, Yanlan Dong, Cassian Yee, Jamie S. Lin


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