A distinct pre-treatment immune gene signature in lentigo maligna is associated with imiquimod response Academic Article uri icon


  • Lentigo maligna (LM) is a common subtype of in situ melanoma on chronically sun-exposed skin, particularly the head and neck of older patients. Although surgery is the standard treatment, there is associated morbidity, and options such as imiquimod cream or radiotherapy may be used if surgery is refused or inappropriate. Complete response rates following imiquimod treatment are variable in the literature. The aim of this study was to evaluate the host immune response both before and following treatment with imiquimod to better identify likely responders. Paired pre- and post-imiquimod treatment specimens were available for 27 patients. Patients were treated with imiquimod 5 days per week for 12 weeks; at 16 weeks, lesions were excised for histological assessment. Of the 27 patients, 16 were responders and 11 failed to clear the disease. PDL1 protein expression was increased, accompanied by a unique gene signature in lesions from patients that subsequently histologically cleared LM by 16 weeks. This comprised 57 upregulated immune genes in signaling networks for antigen presentation, type I interferon signaling, and T-cell activation. This may represent an early responder group to imiquimod, and this unique gene signature potentially can be used as a biomarker of LM response to imiquimod.


  • Halse, Heloise
  • Caramia, Franco
  • McLean, Catriona A
  • Wang, Minyu
  • Aw Yeang, Han Xian
  • Keam, Simon P
  • Behren, Andreas
  • Ly, Lena
  • Haskett, Martin
  • Cebon, Jonathan
  • McArthur, Grant A
  • Neeson, Paul J
  • Mar, Victoria J

publication date

  • 2019