Nivolumab (Opdivo)

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General information

Class/mechanism: PD-1 receptor antibody. Nivolumab is an IgG4 kappa human monoclonal antibody which binds to the PD-1 (programmed death receptor-1) receptor and blocks its interaction with the ligands PD-L1 and PD-L2. Normally, PD-L1 and PD-L2 binding to the PD-1 receptor on T cells inhibits T-cell proliferation and cytokine production, which can impede immune system surveillance of tumors. By interfering with the binding of PD-L1 and PD-L2 to the PD-1 receptor, nivolumab can cause upregulation of the anti-tumor immune response.[1][2][3]
Route: IV
Extravasation: no information

For conciseness and simplicity, currently will focus on treatment regimens and not list information such as: renal/hepatic dose adjustments, metabolism (including CYP450), excretion, monitoring parameters (although this will be considered for checklists), or manufacturer. Instead, for the most current information, please refer to your preferred pharmacopeias such as Micromedex, Lexicomp, UpToDate (courtesy of Lexicomp), or the prescribing information.[1]

Diseases for which it is used

Patient drug information

History of changes in FDA indication

Bladder cancer

Colorectal cancer

Esophageal cancer

Head and neck cancer

Hepatocellular carcinoma

  • 9/22/2017: Granted FDA accelerated approval for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients who have been previously treated with sorafenib. (New disease entity)
  • 3/10/2020: Approved in combination with ipilimumab for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who have been previously treated with sorafenib. (Approval extended to combination therapy)

Hodgkin lymphoma



  • 10/2/2020: Approved in combination with ipilimumab as first-line treatment for adult patients with unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma. (New disease entity)

Non-small cell lung cancer

Renal cell carcinoma

Small cell lung cancer

Also known as

  • Code names: BMS-936558, MDX-1106, ONO-4538
  • Brand name: Opdivo