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J Immunother Cancer. 2016 Oct 18;4:68. eCollection 2016.

Anti-PD-1 increases the clonality and activity of tumor infiltrating antigen specific T cells induced by a potent immune therapy consisting of vaccine and metronomic cyclophosphamide.

Author information

Immunovaccine Inc., 1344 Summer St., Halifax, NS B3H 0A8 Canada.
Sunnybrook Research Institute, 2075 Bayview Ave., Toronto, ON M4N 3M5 Canada ; University of Toronto, 27 King's College Cir, Toronto, ON M5S 1A1 Canada.
Immunovaccine Inc., 1344 Summer St., Halifax, NS B3H 0A8 Canada ; Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Dalhousie University, 5850 College St., Room 7C, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2 Canada.



Future cancer immunotherapies will combine multiple treatments to generate functional immune responses to cancer antigens through synergistic, multi-modal mechanisms. In this study we explored the combination of three distinct immunotherapies: a class I restricted peptide-based cancer vaccine, metronomic cyclophosphamide (mCPA) and anti-PD-1 treatment in a murine tumor model expressing HPV16 E7 (C3).


Mice were implanted with C3 tumors subcutaneously. Tumor bearing mice were treated with mCPA (20 mg/kg/day PO) for seven continuous days on alternating weeks, vaccinated with HPV16 E749-57 peptide antigen formulated in the DepoVax (DPX) adjuvanting platform every second week, and administered anti-PD-1 (200 μg/dose IP) after each vaccination. Efficacy was measured by following tumor growth and survival. Immunogenicity was measured by IFN-γ ELISpot of spleen, vaccine draining lymph nodes and tumor draining lymph nodes. Tumor infiltration was measured by flow cytometry for CD8α+ peptide-specific T cells and RT-qPCR for cytotoxic proteins. The clonality of tumor infiltrating T cells was measured by TCRβ sequencing using genomic DNA.


Untreated C3 tumors had low expression of PD-L1 in vivo and anti-PD-1 therapy alone provided no protection from tumor growth. Treatment with DPX/mCPA could delay tumor growth, and tri-therapy with DPX/mCPA/anti-PD-1 provided long-term control of tumors. We found that treatment with DPX/mCPA/anti-PD-1 enhanced systemic antigen-specific immune responses detected in the spleen as determined by IFN-γ ELISpot compared to those in the DPX/mCPA group, but immune responses in tumor-draining lymph nodes were not increased. Although no increases in antigen-specific CD8α+ TILs could be detected, there was a trend for increased expression of cytotoxic genes within the tumor microenvironment as well as an increase in clonality in mice treated with DPX/mCPA/anti-PD-1 compared to those with anti-PD-1 alone or DPX/mCPA. Using a library of antigen-specific CD8α+ T cell clones, we found that antigen-specific clones were more frequently expanded in the DPX/mCPA/anti-PD-1 treated group.


These results demonstrate how the efficacy of anti-PD-1 may be improved by combination with a potent and targeted T cell activating immune therapy.


Clonality; Metronomic cyclophosphamide; PD-1; Tumor microenvironment; Vaccine

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