Chronic granulomatous dermatitis induced by talimogene laherparepvec therapy of melanoma metastases

Ashlyn S. Everett, Peter G. Pavlidakey, Carlo M. Contreras, Jennifer F. De Los Santos, Ju Y. Kim, Svetlana B. McKee, Howard L. Kaufman, Robert M. Conry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Talimogene laherparepvec (TVEC) is the first oncolytic viral immunotherapy approved by the FDA, for advanced melanoma consisting of genetically modified herpes simplex type 1 virus which selectively replicates causing tumor lysis, expressing granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and activating dendritic cells. Intratumoral injection of TVEC produces objective response in 41% of stage IIB-IV M1a melanoma. However, clinical response assessment can be problematic due to immune-related inflammation at established tumor sites. Herein, we report 5 cases of granulomatous dermatitis developing at sites of TVEC injection associated with pathologic complete response in 4 of 5 patients. Over 5 months, TVEC injections were administrated in a median of 20 tumors per patient for 9 median doses prior to biopsy of persistent, indurated nodules. Granulomatous dermatitis with melanophages and melanin pigment incontinence was observed in all samples without evidence of melanoma cells in 4 patients. The fifth patient was rendered melanoma-free by resection of the 1 nodule out of 4 with persistent tumor. Repetitive administration of TVEC or other oncolytic viral immunotherapies mimicking unresolved infection can produce granulomatous inflammation confounding assessment of the degree of tumor response and need for additional TVEC therapy. Tumor biopsies are encouraged after 4 to 6 months of TVEC administration to differentiate melanoma from granulomatous inflammation. Patients with confirmed granulomatous dermatitis replace continued with remained in remission after treatment discontinuation. Inflammatory nodules typically regress spontaneously.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-53
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of cutaneous pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • dermatitis
  • granuloma
  • melanoma
  • oncolytic viral immunotherapy
  • talimogene laherparepvec


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