Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies can eliminate relapsed and refractory tumors, but the durability of anti-tumor activity requires in vivo persistence. Differential signaling through the CAR costimulatory domain can alter the T cell metabolism, memory differentiation, as well as influence long-term persistence. CAR-T cells costimulated with 4-1BB or ICOS persist in xenograft models but those constructed with CD28 exhibit rapid clearance. Here, we show that a single amino acid residue in CD28 drove T cell exhaustion and hindered the persistence of CD28-based CAR-T cells and substituting this asparagine to phenylalanine (CD28-YMFM) promoted durable anti-tumor control. In addition, CD28-YMFM CAR-T cells exhibited reduced T cell differentiation and exhaustion as well as increased skewing towards Th17 cells. Reciprocal modification of ICOS-containing CAR-T cells abolished in vivo persistence and anti-tumor activity. This finding suggests modifications to the co-stimulatory domains of CAR-T cells can enable longer persistence and thereby improve anti-tumor response.
Sonia Guedan, Aviv Madar, Victoria Casado-Medrano, Carolyn E. Shaw, Anna Wing, Fang Liu, Regina M. Young, Carl H. June, Avery D. Posey Jr.
Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is considered an irreversible fibroinflammatory pancreatic disease. Despite numerous animal model studies, questions remain about local immune characteristics in human CP. We profiled pancreatic immune cell characteristics in control organ donors and CP patients that included hereditary and idiopathic CP undergoing total pancreatectomy with islet auto-transplantation. Flow cytometric analysis revealed a significant increase in the frequency of CD68+ macrophages in idiopathic CP. In contrast, hereditary CP showed a significant increase in CD3+ T cell frequency, which prompted us to investigate the T cell receptor β (TCRβ) repertoire in CP and controls. TCRβ-sequencing revealed a significant increase in TCRβ repertoire diversity and reduced clonality in both CP groups versus controls. Interestingly, we observed differences in Vβ-Jβ gene family usage between hereditary and idiopathic CP and a positive correlation of TCRβ rearrangements with disease severity scores. Immunophenotyping analyses in hereditary and idiopathic CP pancreata indicate differences in innate and adaptive immune responses, which highlights differences in immunopathogenic mechanism of disease among subtypes of CP. TCR repertoire analysis further suggests a role for specific T cell responses in hereditary versus idiopathic CP pathogenesis providing new insights into immune responses associated with human CP.
Bomi Lee, Julia Z. Adamska, Hong Namkoong, Melena D. Bellin, Joshua J. Wilhelm, Gregory L. Szot, David M. Louis, Mark M. Davis, Stephen Pandol, Aida Habtezion
Although CEACAM1 (CC1) glycoprotein resides at the interface of immune liver injury and metabolic homeostasis, its role in orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) remains elusive. We aimed to determine whether/how CEACAM1 signaling may affect hepatic ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) and OLT outcomes. In the mouse, donor liver CC1 null mutation augmented IRI-OLT (CC1-KO>WT) by enhancing ROS expression and HMGB1 translocation during cold storage, data supported by in vitro studies where hepatic flush from CC1-deficient livers enhanced macrophage activation in BMDM cultures. Although hepatic CC1 deficiency augmented cold stress-triggered ASK1/p-p38 upregulation, adjunctive ASK1 inhibition alleviated IRI/improved OLT survival by suppressing p-p38 upregulation, ROS induction/HMGB1 translocation (CC1-KO>WT); while ASK1 silencing (siRNA) promoted cytoprotection in cold-stressed and damage-prone CC1-deficient hepatocyte cultures. Consistent with mouse data, CEACAM1 expression in sixty human donor liver biopsies correlated negatively with activation of ASK1/p-p38 axis; while low-CC1 levels associated with increased ROS/HMGB1 translocation, enhanced innate/adaptive immune responses and inferior early OLT function. Notably, reduced donor liver CEACAM1 expression was identified as one of independent predictors for EAD in human OLT patients. Thus, as a checkpoint regulator of IR-stress/sterile inflammation, CEACAM1 may be considered as a denominator of donor hepatic tissue quality, and a target for therapeutic modulation in OLT recipients.
Kojiro Nakamura, Shoichi Kageyama, Fady M. Kaldas, Hirofumi Hirao, Takahiro Ito, Kentaro Kadono, Kenneth J. Dery, Hidenobu Kojima, David W. Gjertson, Rebecca A. Sosa, Maciej Kujawski, Ronald W. Busuttil, Elaine F. Reed, Jerzy W. Kupiec-Weglinski
Background: The anti-programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) antibody pembrolizumab is clinically active against non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In addition to T-cells, human natural killer (NK) cells, reported to have the potential to prolong the survival of advanced NSCLC patients, also express PD-1. This study aimed to investigate the safety and efficacy of pembrolizumab plus allogeneic NK cells in patients with previously treated advanced NSCLC. Methods: In total, 109 enrolled patients with a programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) tumor proportion score (TPS) ≥1% were randomly allocated to group A (55 patients, pembrolizumab plus NK cells) and group B (54 patients, pembrolizumab alone). The patients received intravenous pembrolizumab (10 mg/kg) once every 3 weeks and continued treatment until the occurrence of tumor progression or unacceptable toxicity. The patients in group A continuously received two cycles of NK cell therapy as one course of treatment. Results: In our study, Group A patients had better survival than group B patients (median overall survival [OS]: 15.5 months vs. 13.3 months; median progression-free survival [PFS]: 6.5 months vs. 4.3 months, P<0.05). In group A patients with a TPS ≥50%, the median OS and PFS were significantly prolonged. Moreover, the group A patients treated with multiple courses of NK cell infusion had better OS (18.5 months) than those who received a single course of NK cell infusion (13.5 months). Conclusions: Pembrolizumab plus NK cell therapy yielded improved survival benefits in patients with previously treated PD-L1-positive advanced NSCLC.
Mao Lin, Haihua Luo, Shuzhen Liang, Jibing Chen, Aihua Liu, Lizhi Niu, Yong Jiang
Curing HIV infection will require the elimination of a reservoir of infected CD4+ T-cells that persists despite HIV-specific cytotoxic T-cell (CTL) responses. While viral latency is a critical factor in this persistence, recent evidence also suggests a role for intrinsic resistance of reservoir-harboring cells to CTL killing. This resistance may have contributed to negative outcomes of clinical trials, where pharmacologic latency reversal has thus far failed to drive reductions in HIV reservoirs. Through transcriptional profiling, we herein identified over-expression of the pro-survival factor BCL-2 as a distinguishing feature of CD4+ T-cells that survived CTL killing. We show that the inducible HIV reservoir was disproportionately present in BCL-2hi subsets, in ex vivo CD4+ T-cells. Treatment with the BCL-2 antagonist ‘ABT-199’ alone was not sufficient to drive reductions in ex vivo viral reservoirs, when tested either alone or with a latency reversing agent (LRA). However, the triple combination of strong LRAs, HIV-specific T-cells, and a BCL-2 antagonist uniquely enabled the depletion of ex vivo viral reservoirs. Our results provide rationale for novel therapeutic approaches targeting HIV cure and, more generally, suggest consideration of BCL-2 antagonism as a means of enhancing CTL immunotherapy in other settings, such as cancer.
Yanqin Ren, Szu-Han Huang, Shabnum Patel, Winiffer D. Conce Alberto, Dean Magat, Dughan J. Ahimovic, Amanda B. Macedo, Ryan Durga, Dora Chan, Elizabeth Zale, Talia M. Mota, Ronald Truong, Thomas Rohwetter, Chase D. McCann, Colin M. Kovacs, Erika Benko, Avery Wimpelberg, Christopher M. Cannon, W. David Hardy, Alberto Bosque, Catherine M. Bollard, R. Brad Jones
Whether mutations in cancer driver genes directly affect cancer immune phenotype and T cell immunity remains a standing question. ARID1A is a core member of the polymorphic BAF chromatin remodeling complex. ARID1A mutations occur in human cancers and drive cancer development. Here, we studied the molecular, cellular, and clinical impact of ARID1A aberrations on cancer immunity. We demonstrated that ARID1A aberrations resulted in limited chromatin accessibility to interferon (IFN) responsive genes, caused impaired IFN-gene expression, anemic T cell tumor infiltration, poor tumor immunity, and shortened host survival in many human cancer histologies as well as in murine cancer models. Impaired IFN signaling was associated with poor immunotherapy response. Mechanistically, ARID1A interacted with EZH2 via its carboxyl terminal and antagonized EZH2-mediated IFN responsiveness. Thus, the interaction between ARID1A and EZH2 defines cancer IFN-responsiveness and immune evasion. Our work indicates that cancer epigenetic driver mutations can shape cancer immune phenotype and immunotherapy.
Jing Li, Weichao Wang, Yajia Zhang, Marcin Cieślik, Jipeng Guo, Mengyao Tan, Michael D. Green, Weimin Wang, Heng Lin, Wei Li, Shuang Wei, Jiajia Zhou, Gaopeng Li, Xiaojun Jing, Linda Vatan, Lili Zhao, Benjamin Bitler, Rugang Zhang, Kathleen R. Cho, Yali Dou, Ilona Kryczek, Timothy A. Chan, David Huntsman, Arul M. Chinnaiyan, Weiping Zou
Despite advancements in targeting the immune checkpoints program cell death protein 1 (PD-1), programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1), and cytotoxic T lymphocyte–associated protein 4 (CTLA-4) for cancer immunotherapy, a large number of patients and cancer types remain unresponsive. Current immunotherapies focus on modulating an antitumor immune response by directly or indirectly expanding antitumor CD8 T cells. A complementary strategy might involve inhibition of Tregs that otherwise suppress antitumor immune responses. Here, we sought to identify functional immune molecules preferentially expressed on tumor-infiltrating Tregs. Using genome-wide RNA-Seq analysis of purified Tregs sorted from multiple human cancer types, we identified a conserved Treg immune checkpoint signature. Using immunocompetent murine tumor models, we found that antibody-mediated depletion of 4-1BB–expressing cells (4-1BB is also known as TNFRSF9 or CD137) decreased tumor growth without negatively affecting CD8 T cell function. Furthermore, we found that the immune checkpoint 4-1BB had a high selectivity for human tumor Tregs and was associated with worse survival outcomes in patients with multiple tumor types. Thus, antibody-mediated depletion of 4-1BB–expressing Tregs represents a strategy with potential activity across cancer types.
Zachary T. Freeman, Thomas R. Nirschl, Daniel H. Hovelson, Robert J. Johnston, John J. Engelhardt, Mark J. Selby, Christina M. Kochel, Ruth Y. Lan, Jingyi Zhai, Ali Ghasemzadeh, Anuj Gupta, Alyza M. Skaist, Sarah J. Wheelan, Hui Jiang, Alexander T. Pearson, Linda A. Snyder, Alan J. Korman, Scott A. Tomlins, Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian, Charles G. Drake
Lymph node stromal cells (LNSC) regulate immunity through constructing lymphocyte niches. LNSC produced Laminin α5 (Lama5) regulates CD4 T cells but the underlying mechanisms of its functions are poorly understood. Here we showed depleting Lama5 in LNSC resulted in decreased Lama5 protein in the LN cortical ridge (CR) and around high endothelial venules (HEV). Lama5 depletion affected LN structure with increased HEV, upregulated chemokines and cell adhesion molecules, and led to greater numbers of Treg in T cell zone. Mouse and human T cell transendothelial migration and T cell entry to LN were suppressed by Lama5 through the receptors a6 integrin and α-dystroglycan. During immune responses and allograft transplantation, depleting Lama5 promoted antigen specific CD4 T cell entry to the CR through HEV, suppressed T cell activation and altered T cell differentiation to suppressive regulatory phenotypes. Enhanced allograft acceptance resulted from depleting Lama5 or blockade of T cell Lama5 receptors. Lama5 and Lama4:Lama5 ratios in allografts were associated with the rejection severity. Overall, our results demonstrated that stromal Lama5 regulated immune responses through altering LN structures and T cell behaviors. The study delineated a stromal Lama5-T cell receptors axis that can be targeted for immune tolerance modulation.
Lushen Li, Marina W. Shirkey, Tianshu Zhang, Yanbao Xiong, Wenji Piao, Vikas Saxena, Christina Paluskievicz, Young S. Lee, Nicholas Toney, Benjamin M. Cerel, Qinshan Li, Thomas Simon, Kyle D. Smith, Keli L. Hippen, Bruce R. Blazar, Reza Abdi, Jonathan S. Bromberg
Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are robust producers of interferon α (IFNα) and one of the first immune cells to respond to simian immunodeficiency virus infection. To elucidate responses to early HIV-1 replication, we studied blood pDCs in 29 HIV-infected participants who initiated antiretroviral therapy during acute infection and underwent analytic treatment interruption (ATI). An increased frequency of partially activated pDCs was observed in the blood prior to detection of HIV RNA. Concurrent with peak pDC frequency, there was a transient decline in the ability of pDCs to produce IFNα in vitro, which correlated with decreased interferon regulatory factory 7 (IRF7) and NF-kB phosphorylation. Levels of phosphorylated IRF7 and NF-kB inversely correlated with plasma IFNα2 levels, implying that pDCs were refractory to in vitro stimulation after IFNα production in vivo. After ATI, decreased expression of IFN genes in pDCs inversely correlated with time to viral detection, suggesting that pDC IFN loss is part of an effective early immune response. These data, from a limited cohort, provide a critical first step in understanding the earliest immune response to HIV-1 and suggest that changes in blood pDC frequency and function can be used as an indicator of viral replication before detectable plasma viremia.
Julie L. Mitchell, Hiroshi Takata, Roshell Muir, Donn J. Colby, Eugene Kroon, Trevor A. Crowell, Carlo Sacdalan, Suteeraporn Pinyakorn, Suwanna Pattamaswin, Khunthalee Benjapornpong, Rapee Trichavaroj, Randall L. Tressler, Lawrence Fox, Victoria R. Polonis, Diane L. Bolton, Frank Maldarelli, Sharon R. Lewin, Elias K. Haddad, Praphan Phanuphak, Merlin L. Robb, Nelson L. Michael, Mark de Souza, Nittaya Phanuphak, Jintanat Ananworanich, Lydie Trautmann
An in-depth understanding of immune escape mechanisms in cancer are likely to lead to innovative advances in immunotherapeutic strategies. However, much remains unknown regarding these mechanisms and how they impact immunotherapy resistance. Using several pre-clinical tumor models as well as clinical specimens, we report a newly identified mechanism whereby CD8+ T cell activation in response to PD-1 blockade induced a PD-L1-NLRP3 inflammasome signaling cascade that ultimately led to the recruitment of granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells (PMN-MDSCs) into tumor tissues, thereby dampening the resulting anti-tumor immune response. The genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of NLRP3 suppressed PMN-MDSC tumor infiltration and significantly augmented the efficacy of anti-PD-1 antibody immunotherapy. This pathway therefore represents a tumor-intrinsic adaptive resistance mechanism to anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy and is a promising target for future translational research.
Balamayooran Theivanthiran, Kathy S. Evans, Nicholas C. DeVito, Michael P. Plebanek, Michael Sturdivant, Lucas P. Wachsmuth, April K.S. Salama, Yubin Kang, David Hsu, Justin M. Balko, Douglas B. Johnson, Mark Starr, Andrew B. Nixon, Alisha Holtzhausen, Brent A. Hanks