Immunotherapy has considerably increased the number of anticancer agents in many tumor types including metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Anti-PD-1 (programmed death 1) and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte–associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) have been shown to benefit the mCRC patients with mismatch repair deficiency (dMMR) or high microsatellite instability (MSI-H). However, ICI is not effective in mismatch repair proficient (pMMR) colorectal tumors, which constitute a large population of patients. Several clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of immunotherapy combined with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other agents are currently ongoing to extend the benefit of immunotherapy to pMMR mCRC cases. In dMMR patients, MSI testing through immunohistochemistry and/or polymerase chain reaction can be used to identify patients that will benefit from immunotherapy. Next-generation sequencing has the ability to detect MSI-H using a low amount of nucleic acids and its application in clinical practice is currently being explored. Preliminary data suggest that radiomics is capable of discriminating MSI from microsatellite stable mCRC and may play a role as an imaging biomarker in the future. Tumor mutational burden, neoantigen burden, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, immunoscore, and gastrointestinal microbiome are promising biomarkers that require further investigation and validation.
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