Expansion and Activation of CD103(+) Dendritic Cell Progenitors at the Tumor Site Enhances Tumor Responses to Therapeutic PD-L1 and BRAF Inhibition.
ABSTRACT: Large numbers of melanoma lesions develop resistance to targeted inhibition of mutant BRAF or fail to respond to checkpoint blockade. We explored whether modulation of intratumoral antigen-presenting cells (APCs) could increase responses to these therapies. Using mouse melanoma models, we found that CD103(+) dendritic cells (DCs) were the only APCs transporting intact antigens to the lymph nodes and priming tumor-specific CD8(+) T cells. CD103(+) DCs were required to promote anti-tumoral effects upon blockade of the checkpoint ligand PD-L1; however, PD-L1 inhibition only led to partial responses. Systemic administration of the growth factor FLT3L followed by intratumoral poly I:C injections expanded and activated CD103(+) DC progenitors in the tumor, enhancing responses to BRAF and PD-L1 blockade and protecting mice from tumor rechallenge. Thus, the paucity of activated CD103(+) DCs in tumors limits checkpoint-blockade efficacy and combined FLT3L and poly I:C therapy can enhance tumor responses to checkpoint and BRAF blockade.
Project description:Although the milestone discovery of immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) has been translated into clinical practice, only a fraction of patients can benefit from it with durable responses and subsequent long-term survival. Here, we tested the anti-tumor effect of combining PD-L1 blockade with 4-1BB costimulation in 3LL and 4T1.2 murine tumor models. Dual treatment induced further tumor regression and enhanced survival in tumor-bearing mice more so than PD-L1 and 4-1BB mAb alone. It was demonstrated that dual anti-PD-L1/anti-4-1BB immunotherapy increased the number of intratumoral CD103+CD8+ T cells and altered their distribution. Phenotypically, CD103+CD8+ T cells expressed a higher level of 4-1BB and PD-1 than their CD103- counterparts. Administration of PD-L1 mAb and 4-1BB mAb further increased the cytolytic capacity of CD103+CD8+ T cells. In vivo, CD103-CD8+ T cells could differentiate into CD103+CD8+ progeny cells. In a human setting, more CD8+ T cells differentiated into CD103+CD8+ T cells in the peripheral tumor region of lung cancer tissues than in the central tumor region. Collectively, infiltrated CD103+CD8+ T cells served as a potential effector T cell population. Combining 4-1BB agonism with PD-L1 blockade could increase tumor-infiltrated CD103+CD8+T cells, thereby facilitating tumor regression.
Project description:Programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression on tumor cells is essential for T cell impairment, and PD-L1 blockade therapy has shown unprecedented durable responses in several clinical studies. Although higher expression of PD-L1 on tumor cells is associated with a better immune response after Ab blockade, some PD-L1-negative patients also respond to this therapy. In the current study, we explored whether PD-L1 on tumor or host cells was essential for anti-PD-L1-mediated therapy in 2 different murine tumor models. Using real-time imaging in whole tumor tissues, we found that anti-PD-L1 Ab accumulates in tumor tissues, regardless of the status of PD-L1 expression on tumor cells. We further observed that, while PD-L1 on tumor cells was largely dispensable for the response to checkpoint blockade, PD-L1 in host myeloid cells was essential for this response. Additionally, PD-L1 signaling in defined antigen-presenting cells (APCs) negatively regulated and inhibited T cell activation. PD-L1 blockade inside tumors was not sufficient to mediate regression, as limiting T cell trafficking reduced the efficacy of the blockade. Together, these findings demonstrate that PD-L1 expressed in APCs, rather than on tumor cells, plays an essential role in checkpoint blockade therapy, providing an insight into the mechanisms of this therapy.
Project description:Immune checkpoint blockade therapies have shown clinical promise in a variety of cancers, but how tumor-infiltrating T cells are activated remains unclear. In this study, we explore the functions of PD-L1 on dendritic cells (DCs), which highly express PD-L1. We observe that PD-L1 on DC plays a critical role in limiting T cell responses. Type 1 conventional DCs are essential for PD-L1 blockade and they upregulate PD-L1 upon antigen uptake. Upregulation of PD-L1 on DC is mediated by type II interferon. While DCs are the major antigen presenting cells for cross-presenting tumor antigens to T cells, subsequent PD-L1 upregulation protects them from killing by cytotoxic T lymphocytes, yet dampens the antitumor responses. Blocking PD-L1 in established tumors promotes re-activation of tumor-infiltrating T cells for tumor control. Our study identifies a critical and dynamic role of PD-L1 on DC, which needs to be harnessed for better invigoration of antitumor immune responses.
Project description:Accumulation of extracellular adenosine within the microenvironment is a strategy exploited by tumors to escape detection by the immune system. Adenosine signaling through the adenosine 2A receptor (A2AR) on immune cells elicits a range of immunosuppressive effects which promote tumor growth and limit the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors. Preclinical data with A2AR inhibitors have demonstrated tumor regressions in mouse models by rescuing T cell function; however, the mechanism and role on other immune cells has not been fully elucidated. METHODS:We report here the development of a small molecule A2AR inhibitor including characterization of binding and inhibition of A2AR function with varying amounts of a stable version of adenosine. Functional activity was tested in both mouse and human T cells and dendritic cells (DCs) in in vitro assays to understand the intrinsic role on each cell type. The role of adenosine and A2AR inhibition was tested in DC differentiation assays as well as co-culture assays to access the cross-priming function of DCs. Syngeneic models were used to assess tumor growth alone and in combination with alphaprogrammed death-ligand 1 (?PD-L1). Immunophenotyping by flow cytometry was performed to examine global immune cell changes upon A2AR inhibition. RESULTS:We provide the first report of AZD4635, a novel small molecule A2AR antagonist which inhibits downstream signaling and increases T cell function as well as a novel mechanism of enhancing antigen presentation by CD103+ DCs. The role of antigen presentation by DCs, particularly CD103+ DCs, is critical to drive antitumor immunity providing rational to combine a priming agent AZD4635 with check point blockade. We find adenosine impairs the maturation and antigen presentation function of CD103+ DCs. We show in multiple syngeneic mouse tumor models that treatment of AZD4635 alone and in combination with ?PD-L1 led to decreased tumor volume correlating with enhanced CD103+ function and T cell response. We extend these studies into human DCs to show that adenosine promotes a tolerogenic phenotype that can be reversed with AZD4635 restoring antigen-specific T cell activation. Our results support the novel role of adenosine signaling as an intrinsic negative regulator of CD103+ DCs maturation and priming. We show that potent inhibition of A2AR with AZD4635 reduces tumor burden and enhances antitumor immunity. This unique mechanism of action in CD103+ DCs may contribute to clinical responses as AZD4635 is being evaluated in clinical trials with IMFINZI (durvalumab, ?PD-L1) in patients with solid malignancies. CONCLUSION:We provide evidence implicating suppression of adaptive and innate immunity by adenosine as a mechanism for immune evasion by tumors. Inhibition of adenosine signaling through selective small molecule inhibition of A2AR using AZD4635 restores T cell function via an internal mechanism as well as tumor antigen cross-presentation by CD103+ DCs resulting in antitumor immunity.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Several predictive biomarkers are currently approved or are under investigation for the selection of patients for checkpoint blockade. Tumor PD-L1 expression is used for stratification of non-small cell lung (NSCLC) patients, with tumor mutational burden (TMB) also being explored with promising results, and mismatch-repair deficiency is approved for tumor site-agnostic disease. While tumors with high PD-L1 expression, high TMB, or mismatch repair deficiency respond well to checkpoint blockade, tumors with lower PD-L1 expression, lower mutational burdens, or mismatch repair proficiency respond much less frequently. CASE PRESENTATION:We studied two patients with unexpected responses to checkpoint blockade monotherapy: a patient with PD-L1-negative and low mutational burden NSCLC and one with mismatch repair proficient colorectal cancer (CRC), both of whom lack the biomarkers associated with response to checkpoint blockade, yet achieved durable clinical benefit. Both maintained T-cell responses in peripheral blood to oncogenic driver mutations - BRAF-N581I in the NSCLC and AKT1-E17K in the CRC - years after treatment initiation. Mutation-specific T cells were also found in the primary tumor and underwent dynamic perturbations in the periphery upon treatment. CONCLUSIONS:These findings suggest that T cell responses to oncogenic driver mutations may be more prevalent than previously appreciated and could be harnessed in immunotherapeutic treatment, particularly for patients who lack the traditional biomarkers associated with response. Comprehensive studies are warranted to further delineate additional predictive biomarkers and populations of patients who may benefit from checkpoint blockade.
Project description:Kidney dendritic cells (DCs) regulate nephritogenic T cell responses. Most kidney DCs belong to the CD11b+ subset and promote crescentic GN (cGN). The function of the CD103+ subset, which represents <5% of kidney DCs, is poorly understood. We studied the role of CD103+ DCs in cGN using several lines of genetically modified mice that allowed us to reduce the number of these cells. In all lines, we detected a reduction of FoxP3+ intrarenal regulatory T cells (Tregs), which protect against cGN. Mice lacking the transcription factor Batf3 had a more profound reduction of CD103+ DCs and Tregs than did the other lines used, and showed the most profound aggravation of cGN. The conditional reduction of CD103+ DC numbers by 50% in Langerin-DTR mice halved Treg numbers, which did not suffice to significantly aggravate cGN. Mice lacking the cytokine Flt3L had fewer CD103+ DCs and Tregs than Langerin-DTR mice but exhibited milder cGN than did Batf3-/- mice presumably because proinflammatory CD11b+ DCs were somewhat depleted as well. Conversely, Flt3L supplementation increased the number of CD103+ DCs and Tregs, but also of proinflammatory CD11b+ DCs. On antibody-mediated removal of CD11b+ DCs, Flt3L supplementation ameliorated cGN. Mechanistically, CD103+ DCs caused cocultured T cells to differentiate into Tregs and produced the chemokine CCL20, which is known to attract Tregs into the kidney. Our findings show that CD103+ DCs foster intrarenal FoxP3+ Treg accumulation, thereby antagonizing proinflammatory CD11b+ DCs. Thus, increasing CD103+ DC numbers or functionality might be advantageous in cGN.
Project description:BACKGROUNDPD-1 and PD-L1 have been studied interchangeably in the clinic as checkpoints to reinvigorate T cells in diverse tumor types. Data for biologic effects of checkpoint blockade in human premalignancy are limited.METHODSWe analyzed the immunologic effects of PD-L1 blockade in a clinical trial of atezolizumab in patients with asymptomatic multiple myeloma (AMM), a precursor to clinical malignancy. Genomic signatures of PD-L1 blockade in purified monocytes and T cells in vivo were also compared with those following PD-1 blockade in lung cancer patients. Effects of PD-L1 blockade on monocyte-derived DCs were analyzed to better understand its effects on myeloid antigen-presenting cells.RESULTSIn contrast to anti-PD-1 therapy, anti-PD-L1 therapy led to a distinct inflammatory signature in CD14+ monocytes and increase in myeloid-derived cytokines (e.g., IL-18) in vivo. Treatment of AMM patients with atezolizumab led to rapid activation and expansion of circulating myeloid cells, which persisted in the BM. Blockade of PD-L1 on purified monocyte-derived DCs led to rapid inflammasome activation and synergized with CD40L-driven DC maturation, leading to greater antigen-specific T cell expansion.CONCLUSIONThese data show that PD-L1 blockade leads to distinct systemic immunologic effects compared with PD-1 blockade in vivo in humans, particularly manifest as rapid myeloid activation. These findings also suggest an additional role for PD-L1 as a checkpoint for regulating inflammatory phenotype of myeloid cells and antigen presentation in DCs, which may be harnessed to improve PD-L1-based combination therapies.TRIAL REGISTRATIONNCT02784483.FUNDINGThis work is supported, in part, by funds from NIH/NCI (NCI CA197603, CA238471, and CA208328).
Project description:Combined immunotherapy targeting the immune checkpoint receptors cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4) and programmed cell death 1 (PD-1), or CTLA-4 and the PD-1 ligand (PD-L1) exhibits superior anti-tumor responses compared with single-agent therapy. Here, we examined the molecular basis for this synergy. Using reconstitution assays with fluorescence readouts, we found that PD-L1 and the CTLA-4 ligand CD80 heterodimerize in cis but not trans. Quantitative biochemistry and cell biology assays revealed that PD-L1:CD80 cis-heterodimerization inhibited both PD-L1:PD-1 and CD80:CTLA-4 interactions through distinct mechanisms but preserved the ability of CD80 to activate the T cell co-stimulatory receptor CD28. Furthermore, PD-L1 expression on antigen-presenting cells (APCs) prevented CTLA-4-mediated trans-endocytosis of CD80. Atezolizumab (anti-PD-L1), but not anti-PD-1, reduced cell surface expression of CD80 on APCs, and this effect was negated by co-blockade of CTLA-4 with ipilimumab (anti-CTLA-4). Thus, PD-L1 exerts an immunostimulatory effect by repressing the CTLA-4 axis; this has implications to the synergy of anti-PD-L1 and anti-CTLA-4 combination therapy.
Project description:Immunotherapy of advanced melanoma with CTLA-4 or PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint blockade induces in a proportion of patients long durable responses. In contrast, targeting the MAPK-pathway by selective BRAF and MEK inhibitors induces high response rates, but most patients relapse. Combining targeted therapy with immunotherapy is proposed to improve the long-term outcomes of patients. Preclinical data endorsing this hypothesis are accumulating. Inhibition of the PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway may be a promising treatment option to overcome resistance to MAPK inhibition and for additional combination with immunotherapy. We therefore evaluated to which extent dual targeting of the MAPK and PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathways affects tumor immune infiltrates and whether it synergizes with PD-1 checkpoint blockade in a BRAFV600E/PTEN-/--driven melanoma mouse model. Short-term dual BRAF + MEK inhibition enhanced tumor immune infiltration and improved tumor control when combined with PD-1 blockade in a CD8+ T cell dependent manner. Additional PI3K inhibition did not impair tumor control or immune cell infiltration and functionality. Analysis of on-treatment samples from melanoma patients treated with BRAF or BRAF + MEK inhibitors indicates that inhibitor-mediated T cell infiltration occurred in all patients early after treatment initiation but was less frequent found in on-treatment biopsies beyond day 15. Our findings provide a rationale for clinical testing of short-term BRAF + MEK inhibition in combination with immune checkpoint blockade, currently implemented at our institutes. Additional PI3K inhibition could be an option for BRAF + MEK inhibitor resistant patients that receive targeted therapy in combination with immune checkpoint blockade.
Project description:BACKGROUND:TNF receptor family agonists and checkpoint blockade combination therapies lead to minimal tumor clearance of poorly immunogenic tumors. Therefore, a need to enhance the efficacy of this combination therapy arises. Antigen-presenting cells (APCs) present antigen to T cells and steer the immune response through chemokine and cytokine secretion. DRibbles (DR) are tumor-derived autophagosomes containing tumor antigens and innate inflammatory adjuvants. METHODS:Using preclinical murine lung and pancreatic cancer models, we assessed the triple combination therapy of GITR agonist and PD-1 blocking antibodies with peritumoral injections of DRibbles-pulsed-bone marrow cells (BMCs), which consisted mainly of APCs, or CD103+ cross-presenting dendritic cells (DCs). Immune responses were assessed by flow cytometry. FTY720 was used to prevent T-cell egress from lymph nodes to assess lymph node involvement, and MHC-mismatched-BMCs were used to assess the necessity of antigen presentation by the peritumorally-injected DR-APCs. RESULTS:Tritherapy increased survival and cures in tumor-bearing mice compared to combined antibody therapy or peritumoral DR-BMCs alone. Peritumorally-injected BMCs remained within the tumor for at least 14?days and tritherapy efficacy was dependent on both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Although the overall percent of tumor-infiltrating T cells remained similar, tritherapy increased the ratio of effector CD4+ T cells-to-regulatory T cells, CD4+ T-cell cytokine production and proliferation, and CD8+ T-cell cytolytic activity in the tumor. Despite tritherapy-induced T-cell activation and cytolytic activity in lymph nodes, this T-cell activation was not required for tumor regression and enhanced survival. Replacement of DR-BMCs with DR-pulsed-DCs in the tritherapy led to similar antitumor effects, whereas replacement with DRibbles was less effective but delayed tumor growth. Interestingly, peritumoral administration of DR-pulsed MHC-mismatched-APCs in the tritherapy led to similar antitumor effects as MHC-matched-APCs, indicating that the observed enhanced antitumor effect was mediated independently of antigen presentation by the administered APCs. CONCLUSIONS:Overall, these results demonstrate that peritumoral DR-pulsed-BMC/DC administration synergizes with GITR agonist and PD-1 blockade to locally modulate and sustain tumor effector T-cell responses independently of T cell priming and perhaps through innate inflammatory modulations mediated by the DRibbles adjuvant. We offer a unique approach to modify the tumor microenvironment to benefit T-cell-targeted immunotherapies.