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Hair Repigmentation and Response to Immunotherapy for NSCLC

By: Sarah Jackson
Posted: Monday, November 13, 2017

In a study conducted by Spanish researchers, some patients who underwent immunotherapy for non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) showed hair repigmentation, which may represent a potential marker of treatment response. The research findings were published in JAMA Dermatology by lead investigator Noelia Rivera, MD, of the Department of Dermatology, Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, Spain, and colleagues.

The authors believe this is the first report of hair repigmentation occurring during therapy with anti–programmed cell death protein 1/anti–programmed cell death ligand 1. During follow-up, 14 patients (13 men, 1 woman) presented with hair regimentation. Of the 14 patients, 13 had a “good clinical response to treatment,” with at least stable disease. Only one patient discontinued treatment due to life-threatening disease progression.

The underlying cause of this rare occurrence is still unclear, but some authors speculate the inhibition of proinfammatory cytokines may function as a negative regulator of melanogenesis, perhaps explaining the repigmentation. Other researchers suggest that melanocytes in hair follicles may be activated through inflammatory mediators, such as cytokines and reactive oxygen species, explaining the localized hair repigmentation after induced folliculitis. The authors concluded that further research with a broader sample population is required to gain deeper insights into the connection between positive immune response and hair repigmentation.