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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Apr 26;108(17):7142-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1016569108. Epub 2011 Apr 11.

Anti-ErbB-2 mAb therapy requires type I and II interferons and synergizes with anti-PD-1 or anti-CD137 mAb therapy.

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Cancer Immunology Program, Sir Donald and Lady Trescowthick Laboratories, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, East Melbourne, VIC 3002, Australia.


Trastuzumab, a monoclonal antibody targeting human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2/ErbB-2), has become the mainstay of treatment for HER2-positive breast cancer. Nevertheless, its exact mechanism of action has not been fully elucidated. Although several studies suggest that Fc receptor-expressing immune cells are involved in trastuzumab therapy, the relative contribution of lymphocyte-mediated cellular cytotoxicity and antitumor cytokines remains unknown. We report here that anti-ErbB-2 mAb therapy is dependent on the release of type I and type II IFNs but is independent of perforin or FasL. Our study thus challenges the notion that classical antibody-dependent, lymphocyte-mediated cellular cytotoxicity is important for trastuzumab. We demonstrate that anti-ErbB-2 mAb therapy of experimental tumors derived from MMTV-ErbB-2 transgenic mice triggers MyD88-dependent signaling and primes IFN-γ-producing CD8+ T cells. Adoptive cell transfer of purified T cell subsets confirmed the essential role of IFN-γ-producing CD8+ T cells. Notably, anti-ErbB-2 mAb therapy was independent of IL-1R or IL-17Ra signaling. Finally, we investigated whether immunostimulatory approaches with antibodies against programmed death-1 (PD-1) or 41BB (CD137) could be used to capitalize on the immune-mediated effects of trastuzumab. We demonstrate that anti-PD-1 or anti-CD137 mAb can significantly improve the therapeutic activity of anti-ErbB-2 mAb in immunocompetent mice.

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