Current clinically approved biomarkers for the PD-1 blockade cancer immunotherapy are based entirely on the properties of tumour cells. With increasing awareness of clinical responses, more precise biomarkers for the efficacy are required based on immune properties. In particular, expression levels of immune checkpoint-associated molecules such as PD-1, PD-L1, and CTLA-4 would be critical to evaluate the immune state of individuals. Although quantification of their soluble form leased from the membrane will provide quick evaluation of patients’ immune status, available methods such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to measure these soluble factors have limitations in sensitivity and reproducibility for clinical use. To overcome these problems, we developed a rapid and sensitive immunoassay system based on chemiluminescent magnetic technology. The system is fully automated, providing high reproducibility. Application of this system to plasma of patients with several types of tumours demonstrated that soluble PD-1, PD-L1, and CTLA-4 levels were increased compared to those of healthy controls and varied among tumour types. The sensitivity and detection range were sufficient for evaluating plasma concentrations before and after the surgical ablation of cancers. Therefore, our newly developed system shows potential for accurate detection of soluble PD-1, PD-L1, and CTLA-4 levels in the clinical practice.
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