Hair Repigmentation: A Marker of Anti-PD-1 Treatment Response?

July 18, 2017
Lisa Schulmeister, RN, MN, APRN-BC, FAAN

Hair repigmentation in patients receiving anti-PD-1/anti-PD-L1 treatment may be a response marker.

The approval of new targeted agents has expanded treatment options for patients with cancer. However, because they are so new, their side effect profile and associated adverse events have not been fully elucidated.

Clinicians in Spain noted a new adverse event—hair repigmentation—secondary to anti—programmed cell death 1 (anti–PD-1) and anti–programmed cell death ligand 1 (anti–PD-L1) therapy for non–small cell lung cancer and published their observations in JAMA Dermatology.

The July 12, 2017 report described 14 patients who developed hair repigmentation after anti—PD-1/anti–PD-L1 treatment, which consisted of a diffuse darkening of the hair in 13 of the 14 patients and the development of black patches between white hairs in one patient. Thirteen of the 14 patients had a good clinical response to treatment, with at least stable disease, and one had to discontinue treatment after 4 cycles because of progressive disease.

The authors concluded that this is the first published report of hair repigmentation secondary to anti—PD-1/anti–PD-L1 therapy for lung cancer and may be a response marker for these patients. The study findings are available here.