Abstract

Background and Aims: This meta-analysis was performed to compare the efficacy and safety of a triple therapy, involving transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) + apatinib combined with a programmed-cell death protein-1 (PD-1) inhibitor versus TACE + apatinib, a dual therapy with apatinib and PD-1 inhibitor, and TACE alone for the treatment of advanced primary hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).


Methods: A computerized systematic search of databases, such as PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Library, CNKI, Wanfang Data, and VIP e-Journals was performed to retrieve studies comparing TACE + apatinib combined with a PD-1 inhibitor versus a non-triple therapy for the treatment of advanced primary HCC. The literature search, quality assessment, and data extraction were performed independently by two researchers. Stata 16.0 software was employed to analyze the data. Heterogeneity was assessed utilizing the I2 statistic and p-value, followed by conducting sensitivity analysis.


Results: A total of 2,352 patients were enrolled from 8 studies, including 900 patients in the triple therapy group of TACE + apatinib combined with a PD-1 inhibitor, 877 patients in the TACE + apatinib group, 52 patients in the apatinib + a PD-1 inhibitor group, and 112 patients in the TACE group. The results revealed that the objective response rate (ORR) was significantly higher in the triple therapy group of TACE + apatinib combined with a PD-1 inhibitor than that in the non-triple therapy group [odds ratio (OR)=2.47, 95% confidence interval (95%CI): 1.61-3.78]. Besides, disease control rate (DCR) was greater in the triple therapy group of TACE + apatinib combined with a PD-1 inhibitor than that in the non-triple therapy group (OR=1.87, 95%CI: 1.44-2.44). Patients in the triple therapy group experienced a significant extension of overall survival (OS) (HR=0.42, 95%CI: 0.36-0.49). In addition, there was no significant difference in the overall rate of adverse events (AEs) between the two groups (OR=1.05, 95%CI: 0.89-1.22).


Conclusions: Compared with the non-triple therapy group, the triple therapy group of TACE + apatinib combined with a PD-1 inhibitor outperformed in terms of tumor response and long-term survival with manageable AEs.

Keywords

apatinib, TACE, PD-1 inhibitor, advanced primary hepatocellular carcinoma, efficacy, meta-analysis