Publications & Posters

A Pilot Study of Whether the Cold-Heat Syndrome Type is Associated with Treatment Response and Immune Status in Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine | June 22, 2021

Choi Y, Kwon O, Choi C-M and Jeong M-K

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2021;2021:9920469



The cold-heat syndrome type (ZHENG) is one of the essential elements of syndrome differentiation in East Asian Medicine. This pilot study aimed to explore the characteristics of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) based on the cold-heat syndrome type. Twenty NSCLC patients treated with ICI monotherapy were included in the study and completed the cold-heat syndrome differentiation questionnaire. Demographic and clinical characteristics of the included patients were obtained through electronic medical records. Additionally, blood samples of 10 patients were analyzed with cytokine level and immune profiling. Patients were divided into two groups of cold type (n = 9) and non-cold type (n = 11), according to the cold symptoms questionnaire’s cutoff point. No significant difference between the two groups was observed in clinical response to ICIs (p=0.668). Progression-free survival (PFS) seemed to be longer in patients with non-cold type than cold type (p=.0332). In patients with adenocarcinoma, the non-cold type showed longer PFS than the cold type (p=0.036). Also, there were more patients with PD-L1 negative in the cold type compared to the non-cold type (p=0.050). In immune profiling, the proportion of effector memory CD8 T-cells was higher in patients with cold type than with non-cold type (p=0.015), and the proportion of terminal effector CD8 T-cells was lower in patients with cold type than with non-cold type (p=0.005). This pilot study has shown the potential for differences in prognosis and immune status between patients with cold and non-cold types. Hopefully, it provides essential information and insight into NSCLC patients’ characteristics from the perspective of syndrome differentiation. Further large-scale observational studies and intervention studies are required.