Melanoma-specific MHC-II expression represents a tumour-autonomous phenotype and predicts response to anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy.
ABSTRACT: Anti-PD-1 therapy yields objective clinical responses in 30-40% of advanced melanoma patients. Since most patients do not respond, predictive biomarkers to guide treatment selection are needed. We hypothesize that MHC-I/II expression is required for tumour antigen presentation and may predict anti-PD-1 therapy response. In this study, across 60 melanoma cell lines, we find bimodal expression patterns of MHC-II, while MHC-I expression was ubiquitous. A unique subset of melanomas are capable of expressing MHC-II under basal or IFN?-stimulated conditions. Using pathway analysis, we show that MHC-II(+) cell lines demonstrate signatures of 'PD-1 signalling', 'allograft rejection' and 'T-cell receptor signalling', among others. In two independent cohorts of anti-PD-1-treated melanoma patients, MHC-II positivity on tumour cells is associated with therapeutic response, progression-free and overall survival, as well as CD4(+) and CD8(+) tumour infiltrate. MHC-II(+) tumours can be identified by melanoma-specific immunohistochemistry using commercially available antibodies for HLA-DR to improve anti-PD-1 patient selection.
Project description:Immunotherapies targeting programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) or its ligand, programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1), dramatically improve the survival of melanoma patients. However, only ?40% of treated patients demonstrate a clinical response to single-agent anti-PD-1 therapy. An intact tumor response to type-II interferon (i.e. IFN-?) correlates with response to anti-PD-1, and patients with de novo or acquired resistance may harbor loss-of-function alterations in the JAK/STAT pathway, which lies downstream of the interferon gamma receptor (IFNGR1/2). In this study, we dissected the specific roles of individual JAK/STAT pathway members on the IFN-? response, and identified JAK1 as the primary mediator of JAK/STAT signaling associated with IFN-?-induced expression of antigen-presenting molecules MHC-I and MHC-II, as well as PD-L1 and the cytostatic response to IFN-?. In contrast to the crucial role of JAK1, JAK2 was largely dispensable in mediating most IFN-? effects. In a mouse melanoma model, inhibition of JAK1/2 in combination with anti-PD-L1 therapy partially blocked anti-tumor immunologic responses, while selective JAK2 inhibition appeared to augment therapy. Amplification of JAK/STAT signaling in tumor cells through genetic inhibition of the negative regulator PTPN2 potentiated IFN-? response in vitro and in vivo, and may be a target to enhance immunotherapy efficacy.
Project description:Purpose: Anti-PD-1 therapy has revolutionized the treatment and improved the survival of stage IV melanoma patients. However, almost half of the patients fail to respond due to immune evasive mechanism. A known mechanism is the downregulation of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I expression, which prevents T cell recognition of the tumor. This study determined the relationship between natural killer (NK) cell numbers and clinical response to anti-PD-1 therapy in metastatic melanoma. Experimental Design: Twenty-five anti-PD-1 treated metastatic melanoma patients were categorized into responders (complete response (CR)/partial response (PR)/stable disease (SD) ? 6 mo, n = 13) and non-responders (SD < 6 days/progressive disease (PD), n = 12) based on RECIST response. Whole transcriptome sequencing and multiplex immunofluorescent staining were performed on pre-treatment and on a subset of early during treatment tumor samples. Spatial distribution analysis was performed on multiplex immunofluorescent images to determine the proximity of NK cells to tumor cells. Flow cytometry was used to confirm NK phenotypes in lymph node metastases of treatment naïve melanoma patients (n = 5). Cytotoxic assay was performed using NK cells treated with anti-PD-1 or with isotype control and co-cultured with 3 different melanoma cell lines and with K562 cells (leukemia cell line). Results: Differential expression analysis identified nine upregulated NK cell specific genes (adjusted p < 0.05) in responding (n = 11) versus non-responding patients (n = 10). Immunofluorescent staining of biopsies confirmed a significantly higher density of intra- and peri-tumoral CD16+ and granzyme B + NK cells in responding patients (p < 0.05). Interestingly, NK cells were in closer proximity to tumor cells in responding PD-1 treated patients compared to non-responding patients. Patients who responded to anti-PD-1 therapy, despite MHC class I loss had higher NK cell densities than patients with low MHC class I expression. Lastly, functional assays demonstrated PD-1 blockade induces an increase in NK cells' cytotoxicity. Conclusions: A higher density of tumoral NK cells is associated with response to anti-PD-1 therapy. NK cells may play an important role in mediating response to anti-PD-1 therapy, including in a subset of tumors downregulating MHC class I expression.
Project description:Tumour cells evade immune surveillance by upregulating the surface expression of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), which interacts with programmed death-1 (PD-1) receptor on T cells to elicit the immune checkpoint response1,2. Anti-PD-1 antibodies have shown remarkable promise in treating tumours, including metastatic melanoma2-4. However, the patient response rate is low4,5. A better understanding of PD-L1-mediated immune evasion is needed to predict patient response and improve treatment efficacy. Here we report that metastatic melanomas release extracellular vesicles, mostly in the form of exosomes, that carry PD-L1 on their surface. Stimulation with interferon-? (IFN-?) increases the amount of PD-L1 on these vesicles, which suppresses the function of CD8 T cells and facilitates tumour growth. In patients with metastatic melanoma, the level of circulating exosomal PD-L1 positively correlates with that of IFN-?, and varies during the course of anti-PD-1 therapy. The magnitudes of the increase in circulating exosomal PD-L1 during early stages of treatment, as an indicator of the adaptive response of the tumour cells to T cell reinvigoration, stratifies clinical responders from non-responders. Our study unveils a mechanism by which tumour cells systemically suppress the immune system, and provides a rationale for the application of exosomal PD-L1 as a predictor for anti-PD-1 therapy.
Project description:Antibodies against programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) have considerably changed the treatment for melanoma. However, many patients do not display therapeutic response or eventually relapse. Moreover, patients treated with anti-PD-1 develop immune-related adverse events that can be cured with anti-tumor necrosis factor ? (TNF) antibodies. Whether anti-TNF antibodies affect the anti-cancer immune response remains unknown. Our recent work has highlighted that TNFR1-dependent TNF signalling impairs the accumulation of CD8+ tumor-infiltrating T lymphocytes (CD8+ TILs) in mouse melanoma. Herein, our results indicate that TNF or TNFR1 blockade synergizes with anti-PD-1 on anti-cancer immune responses towards solid cancers. Mechanistically, TNF blockade prevents anti-PD-1-induced TIL cell death as well as PD-L1 and TIM-3 expression. TNF expression positively correlates with expression of PD-L1 and TIM-3 in human melanoma specimens. This study provides a strong rationale to develop a combination therapy based on the use of anti-PD-1 and anti-TNF in cancer patients.
Project description:Transcriptomic signatures designed to predict melanoma patient responses to PD-1 blockade have been reported but rarely validated. We now show that intra-patient heterogeneity of tumor responses to PD-1 inhibition limit the predictive performance of these signatures. We reasoned that resistance mechanisms will reflect the tumor microenvironment, and thus we examined PD-1 inhibitor resistance relative to T-cell activity in 94 melanoma tumors collected at baseline and at time of PD-1 inhibitor progression. Tumors were analyzed using RNA sequencing and flow cytometry, and validated functionally. These analyses confirm that major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I downregulation is a hallmark of resistance to PD-1 inhibitors and is associated with the MITFlow/AXLhigh de-differentiated phenotype and cancer-associated fibroblast signatures. We demonstrate that TGFß drives the treatment resistant phenotype (MITFlow/AXLhigh) and contributes to MHC class I downregulation in melanoma. Combinations of anti-PD-1 with drugs that target the TGFß signaling pathway and/or which reverse melanoma de-differentiation may be effective future therapeutic strategies.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Interferon-induced expression of programmed cell death ligands (PD-L1/PD-L2) may sustain tumour immune-evasion. Patients featuring MET amplification, a genetic lesion driving transformation, may benefit from anti-MET treatment. We explored if MET-targeted therapy interferes with Interferon-γ modulation of PD-L1/PD-L2 in MET-amplified tumours. METHODS:PD-L1/PD-L2 expression and signalling pathways downstream of MET or Interferon-γ were analysed in MET-amplified tumour cell lines and in patient-derived tumour organoids, in basal condition, upon Interferon-γ stimulation, and after anti-MET therapy. RESULTS:PD-L1 and PD-L2 were upregulated in MET-amplified tumour cells upon Interferon-γ treatment. This induction was impaired by JNJ-605, a selective inhibitor of MET kinase activity, and MvDN30, an antibody inducing MET proteolytic cleavage. We found that activation of JAKs/ STAT1, signal transducers downstream of the Interferon-γ receptor, was neutralised by MET inhibitors. Moreover, JAK2 and MET associated in the same signalling complex depending on MET phosphorylation. Results were confirmed in MET-amplified organoids derived from human colorectal tumours, where JNJ-605 treatment revoked Interferon-γ induced PD-L1 expression. CONCLUSIONS:These data show that in MET-amplified cancers, treatment with MET inhibitors counteracts the induction of PD-1 ligands by Interferon-γ. Thus, therapeutic use of anti-MET drugs may provide additional clinical benefit over and above the intended inhibition of the target oncogene.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Antibodies blocking programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) have encouraging responses in patients with metastatic melanoma. Response to anti-PD-1 treatment requires pre-existing CD8+ T cells that are negatively regulated by PD-1-mediated adaptive immune resistance. Unfortunately, less than half of melanoma tumours have these characteristics. Combining anti-PD-1 treatment with other immunomodulating treatments to activate CD8+ T cells is therefore of vital importance to increase response rates and long-term survival benefit in melanoma patients. Both preclinical and retrospective clinical data support the hypothesis that radiotherapy increases the response rates to anti-PD-1 treatment by stimulating the accumulation and activation of CD8+ T cells in the tumour microenvironment. Combining radiotherapy with a PD-1 blocking antibody might therefore increase response rates and even induce long-term survival. The current phase II study will be testing these hypotheses and aims to improve local and distant tumour responses by exploiting the pro-immunogenic effects of radiotherapy in addition to anti-PD-1 treatment. METHODS:The trial will be conducted in patients with metastatic melanoma. Nivolumab or pembrolizumab, both antibodies that target PD-1, will be administrated according to the recommended dosing schedule. Prior to the 2nd cycle, radiotherapy will be delivered in three fractions of 8 Gy to the largest FDG-avid metastatic lesion. The primary endpoint is the proportion of patients with a partial or complete response in non-irradiated metastases according to RECIST v1.1. Secondary endpoints include response rate according to immune related response criteria, metabolic response, local control and survival. To identify peripheral blood biomarkers, peripheral blood mononuclear cells and serum samples will be collected prospectively before, during and after treatment and subjected to flow cytometry and cytokine measurement. DISCUSSION:The current phase II trial aims at exploring the suggested benefits of combining anti-PD-1 treatment and radiotherapy. The translational focus on immunologic markers might be suitable for predicting efficacy and monitoring the effect so to improve patient selection for future clinical applications. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT02821182.
Project description:We previously developed cell-based vaccines as therapeutics for metastatic cancers. The vaccines were aimed at activating type I CD4(+)T cells and consisted of tumor cells transfected with genes encoding syngeneic MHC class II and CD80 costimulatory molecules, and lacking the MHC II-associated invariant chain. The vaccines showed some efficacy in mice with sarcoma, melanoma, and breast cancer and activated MHC class II syngeneic T cells from breast, lung, and melanoma patients. During the course of the vaccine studies, we observed that CD80 not only costimulated naïve T cells, but also bound to PD-L1 and prevented tumor cell-expressed PD-L1 from binding to its receptor PD-1 on activated T cells. A soluble form of CD80 (CD80-Fc) had the same effect and sustained IFN? production by both human and murine PD-1(+) activated T cells in the presence of PD-L1(+) human or mouse tumor cells, respectively. In vitro studies with human tumor cells indicated that CD80-Fc was more effective than antibodies to either PD-1 or PD-L1 in sustaining T cell production of IFN?. Additionally, in vivo studies with a murine tumor demonstrated that CD80-Fc was more effective than antibodies to PD-L1 in extending survival time. Studies with human T cells blocked for CD28 and with T cells from CD28 knockout mice demonstrated that CD80-Fc simultaneously inhibited PD-L1/PD-1-mediated immune suppression and delivered costimulatory signals to activated T cells, thereby amplifying T cell activation. These results suggest that CD80-Fc may be a useful monotherapy that minimizes PD-1 pathway immune suppression while simultaneously activating tumor-reactive T cells.
Project description:Programmed cell death receptor-1 (PD-1) and programmed cell death-1 ligand-1 (PD-L1) represent promising novel targets in immunotherapy. PD-1 is an inhibitory receptor involved in T-cell regulation that is expressed by activated T cells. Nivolumab and pembrolizumab are anti-PD-1 antibodies that have shown antitumor activity and acceptable tolerability in patients with metastatic melanoma in preclinical development and Phase I/II clinical trials. Several ongoing Phase III studies are further investigating the efficacy and safety of anti-PD-1 therapy in melanoma. Initial data on the combination of anti-PD-1 and anti-cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 blockade with nivolumab and ipilimumab also appear promising. Monoclonal antibodies to blockade PD-L1 may also be an effective immunotherapy strategy in melanoma and several anti-PD-L1 antibodies are in development.