Gene-Edited Interleukin CAR-T Cells Therapy in the Treatment of Malignancies: Present and Future.
ABSTRACT: In recent years, chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CAR-T cells) have been faced with the problems of weak proliferation and poor persistence in the treatment of some malignancies. Researchers have been trying to perfect the function of CAR-T by genetically modifying its structure. In addition to the participation of T cell receptor (TCR) and costimulatory signals, immune cytokines also exert a decisive role in the activation and proliferation of T cells. Therefore, genetic engineering strategies were used to generate cytokines to enhance tumor killing function of CAR-T cells. When CAR-T cells are in contact with target tumor tissue, the proliferation ability and persistence of T cells can be improved by structurally or inductively releasing immunoregulatory molecules to the tumor region. There are a large number of CAR-T cells studies on gene-edited cytokines, and the most common cytokines involved are interleukins (IL-7, IL-12, IL-15, IL-18, IL-21, IL-23). Methods for the construction of gene-edited interleukin CAR-T cells include co-expression of single interleukin, two interleukin, interleukin combined with other cytokines, interleukin receptors, interleukin subunits, and fusion inverted cytokine receptors (ICR). Preclinical and clinical trials have yielded positive results, and many more are under way. By reading a large number of literatures, we summarized the functional characteristics of some members of the interleukin family related to tumor immunotherapy, and described the research status of gene-edited interleukin CAR-T cells in the treatment of malignant tumors. The objective is to explore the optimized strategy of gene edited interleukin-CAR-T cell function.
Project description:The antitumor activity of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-redirected CTLs should be enhanced if it were possible to increase their proliferation and function after adoptive transfer without concomitantly increasing the proliferation and function of regulatory T cells (Treg). Here, we explored whether the lack of IL-7R? in Treg can be exploited by the targeted manipulation of the interleukin-7 (IL-7) cytokine-cytokine receptor axis in CAR-engrafted Epstein-Barr Virus-specific CTLs (EBV-CTLs) to selectively augment their growth and antitumor activity even in the presence of Treg.We generated a bicistronic retroviral vector encoding a GD2-specific CAR and the IL-7R? subunit, expressed the genes in EBV-CTLs, and assessed their capacity to control tumor growth in the presence of Treg in vitro and in vivo when exposed to either interleukin-2 (IL-2) or IL-7 in a neuroblastoma xenograft.We found that IL-7, in sharp contrast with IL-2, supports the proliferation and antitumor activity of IL-7R?.CAR-GD2(+) EBV-CTLs both in vitro and in vivo even in the presence of fully functional Treg.IL-7 selectively favors the survival, proliferation, and effector function of IL-7R?-transgenic/CAR-redirected EBV-CTLs in the presence of Treg both in vitro and in vivo. Thus, IL-7 can have a significant impact in sustaining expansion and persistence of adoptively CAR-redirected CTLs.
Project description:The adoptive transfer of T cells redirected to tumor-associated antigens via transgenic expression of chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) has produced tumor responses, even in patients with refractory diseases. To target pancreatic cancer, we generated CAR T cells directed against prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA) and demonstrated specific tumor lysis. However, pancreatic tumors employ immune evasion strategies such as the production of inhibitory cytokines, which limit CAR T cell persistence and function. Thus, to protect our cells from the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-4, we generated an inverted cytokine receptor in which the IL-4 receptor exodomain was fused to the IL-7 receptor endodomain (4/7 ICR). Transgenic expression of this molecule in CAR-PSCA T cells should invert the inhibitory effects of tumor-derived IL-4 and instead promote T cell proliferation. We now demonstrate the suppressed activity of CAR T cells in tumor-milieu conditions and the ability of CAR/ICR T cells to thrive in an IL-4-rich microenvironment, resulting in enhanced antitumor activity. Importantly, CAR/ICR T cells remained both antigen and cytokine dependent. These findings support the benefit of combining the 4/7 ICR with CAR-PSCA to treat pancreatic cancer, a PSCA-expressing tumor characterized by a dense immunosuppressive environment rich in IL-4.
Project description:Anti-tumor efficacy of T cells engineered to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) is dependent on their specificity, survival, and in vivo expansion following adoptive transfer. Toll-like receptor (TLR) and CD40 signaling in T cells can improve persistence and drive proliferation of antigen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells following pathogen challenge or in graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) settings, suggesting that these costimulatory pathways may be co-opted to improve CAR-T cell persistence and function. Here, we present a novel strategy to activate TLR and CD40 signaling in human T cells using inducible MyD88/CD40 (iMC), which can be triggered in vivo via the synthetic dimerizing ligand, rimiducid, to provide potent costimulation to CAR-modified T cells. Importantly, the concurrent activation of iMC (with rimiducid) and CAR (by antigen recognition) is required for interleukin (IL)-2 production and robust CAR-T cell expansion and may provide a user-controlled mechanism to amplify CAR-T cell levels in vivo and augment anti-tumor efficacy.
Project description:Cytokines that stimulate T cell proliferation, such as interleukin (IL)-15, have been explored as a means of boosting the antitumor activity of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. However, constitutive cytokine signaling in T cells and activation of bystander cells may cause toxicity. IL-23 is a two-subunit cytokine known to promote proliferation of memory T cells and T helper type 17 cells. We found that, upon T cell antigen receptor (TCR) stimulation, T cells upregulated the IL-23 receptor and the IL-23? p19 subunit, but not the p40 subunit. We engineered expression of the p40 subunit in T cells (p40-Td cells) and obtained selective proliferative activity in activated T cells via autocrine IL-23 signaling. In comparison to CAR T cells, p40-Td CAR T cells showed improved antitumor capacity in vitro, with increased granzyme B and decreased PD-1 expression. In two xenograft and two syngeneic solid tumor mouse models, p40-Td CAR T cells showed superior efficacy in comparison to CAR T cells and attenuated side effects in comparison to CAR T cells expressing IL-18 or IL-15.
Project description:The process of cancer immunoediting generates a repertoire of cancer cells that can persist in immune-competent hosts. In its most complex form, this process begins with the elimination of highly immunogenic unedited tumor cells followed by the escape of less immunogenic edited cells. Although edited tumors can release immunosuppressive factors, it is unknown whether unedited tumors produce cytokines that enhance antitumor function. Utilizing gene microarray analysis, we found the cytokine interleukin 17D (IL-17D) was highly expressed in certain unedited tumors but not in edited mouse tumor cell lines. Moreover, forced expression of IL-17D in edited tumor cells induced rejection by stimulating MCP-1 production from tumor endothelial cells, leading to the recruitment of natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells promoted M1 macrophage development and adaptive immune responses. IL-17D expression was also decreased in certain high-grade and metastatic human tumors, suggesting that it can be targeted for tumor immune therapy.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are a promising anticancer immunotherapy, leveraging both innate NK cell antitumor activity and target-specific cytotoxicity. Inducible MyD88/CD40 (iMC) is a potent, rimiducid-regulated protein switch that has been deployed previously as a T-cell activator to enhance proliferation and persistence of CAR-modified T cells. In this study, iMC was extended to CAR-NK cells to enhance their growth and augment cytotoxicity against tumor cells. iMC-activated NK cells substantially increased cytokine and chemokine secretion and displayed higher levels of perforin and granzyme B degranulation. In addition, iMC activation could be coupled with ectopic interleukin-15 (IL-15) to further enhance NK cell proliferation. When coexpressed with a target-specific CAR (CD123 or BCMA), this IL-15/iMC system showed further augmented antitumor activity through enhanced CAR-NK cell expansion and cytolytic activity. To protect against potential toxicity from engineered NK cells, an orthogonal rapamycin-regulated Caspase-9 (iRC9) was included in a 4-gene, dual-switch platform. After infusion of dual-switch NK cells, pharmacologic iRC9 dimerization led to rapid elimination of a majority of expanded transduced NK cells. Thus, CAR-NK cells utilizing dual molecular switches provide an innovative and effective approach to cancer immunotherapy with controlled specificity, efficacy, and safety.
Project description:Incorporation of inverted cytokine receptor (ICR) such as interleukin (IL)-4 vs. IL-7 (4/7) ICR is one strategy to improve the antitumor activities of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modified T (CAR-T) cells facing immunosuppressive cytokines. Here we report a novel interleukin (IL)-4 vs. IL-21 ICR (4/21 ICR) that enhanced CAR-T cell potency in IL-4+ tumor milieu via a different working-mechanism from 4/7 ICR. Upon IL-4 stimulation, 4/21 ICR activated the STAT3 pathway and promoted Th17-like polarization and tumor-targeted cytotoxicity in CAR-T cells in vitro. Furthermore, 4/21 ICR-CAR T cells persisted and eradicated established IL-4+ tumors in vivo. Thus, 4/21 ICR is a promising clinical CAR-T cell therapeutics for solid tumors rich in IL-4.
Project description:Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy has proven clinically beneficial against B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. However, suboptimal clinical outcomes have been associated with decreased expansion and persistence of adoptively transferred CAR T cells, antigen-negative relapses, and impairment by an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Improvements in CAR T cell design are required to enhance clinical efficacy, as well as broaden the applicability of this technology. Here, we demonstrate that interleukin-18 (IL-18)-secreting CAR T cells exhibit enhanced in vivo expansion and persistence and significantly increase long-term survival in syngeneic mouse models of both hematological and solid malignancies. In addition, we demonstrate that IL-18-secreting CAR T cells are capable of modulating the tumor microenvironment, as well as enhancing an effective endogenous anti-tumor immune response. IL-18-secreting CAR T cells represent a promising strategy to enhance the clinical outcomes of adoptive T cell therapy.
Project description:Immunotherapies have become the backbone of cancer treatment. Among them, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells have demonstrated great success in the treatment of hematological malignancies. However, CAR T therapy against solid tumors is less effective. Antigen targeting; an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME); and the infiltration, proliferation, and persistence of CAR T cells are the predominant barriers preventing the extension of CAR T therapy to solid tumors. To circumvent these obstacles, the next-generation CAR T cells will require more potent antitumor properties, which can be achieved by gene-editing technology. In this review, we summarize innovative strategies to enhance CAR T cell function by improving target identification, persistence, trafficking, and overcoming the suppressive TME. The construction of multi-target CAR T cells improves antigen recognition and reduces immune escape. Enhancing CAR T cell proliferation and persistence can be achieved by optimizing costimulatory signals and overexpressing cytokines. CAR T cells equipped with chemokines or chemokine receptors help overcome their poor homing to tumor sites. Strategies like knocking out immune checkpoint molecules, incorporating dominant negative receptors, and chimeric switch receptors can favor the depletion or reversal of negative T cell regulators in the TME.
Project description:Genetically modified T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) so far have mostly failed in the treatment of solid tumors owing to a number of limitations, including an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment and insufficient CAR T cell activation and persistence. Next-generation approaches using CAR T cells that secrete transgenic immunomodulatory cytokines upon CAR signaling, known as TRUCKs ("T cells redirected for universal cytokine-mediated killing"), are currently being explored. As TRUCKs were engineered by the transduction of T cells with two separate vectors, we developed a lentiviral modular "all-in-one" vector system that combines constitutive CAR expression and inducible nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT)-driven transgene expression for more efficient production of TRUCKs. Activation of the GD2-specific CAR via GD2+ target cells induced NFAT promoter-driven cytokine release in primary human T cells, and indicated a tight linkage of CAR-specific activation and transgene expression that was further improved by a modified NFATsyn promoter. As proof-of-concept, we showed that T cells containing the "all-in-one" vector system secrete the immunomodulatory cytokines interleukin (IL)12 or IL18 upon co-cultivation with primary human GD2+ tumor cells, resulting in enhanced effector cell properties and increased monocyte recruitment. This highlights the potential of our system to simplify application of TRUCK-modified T cells in solid tumor therapy.