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Oncoimmunology. 2018 Jan 19;7(5):e1421891. doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2017.1421891. eCollection 2018.

Complimentary mechanisms of dual checkpoint blockade expand unique T-cell repertoires and activate adaptive anti-tumor immunity in triple-negative breast tumors.

Author information

1
Department of Surgery, Duke University, Durham, NC, United States.
2
Immuno-Oncology Discovery, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Redwood City, CA, United States.
3
Department of Medicine, Duke University, Durham, NC, United States.
4
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cedars-Sinai Medical Institute, Los Angeles, CA, United States.
5
Department of Pathology/Immunology, Duke University, Durham, NC, United States.

Abstract

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive and molecularly diverse breast cancer subtype typified by the presence of p53 mutations (∼80%), elevated immune gene signatures and neoantigen expression, as well as the presence of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). As these factors are hypothesized to be strong immunologic prerequisites for the use of immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) antibodies, multiple clinical trials testing single ICBs have advanced to Phase III, with early indications of heterogeneous response rates of <20% to anti-PD1 and anti-PDL1 ICB. While promising, these modest response rates highlight the need for mechanistic studies to understand how different ICBs function, how their combination impacts functionality and efficacy, as well as what immunologic parameters predict efficacy to different ICBs regimens in TNBC. To address these issues, we tested anti-PD1 and anti-CTLA4 in multiple models of TNBC and found that their combination profoundly enhanced the efficacy of either treatment alone. We demonstrate that this efficacy is due to anti-CTLA4-driven expansion of an individually unique T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire whose functionality is enhanced by both intratumoral Treg suppression and anti-PD1 blockade of tumor expressed PDL1. Notably, the individuality of the TCR repertoire was observed regardless of whether the tumor cells expressed a nonself antigen (ovalbumin) or if tumor-specific transgenic T-cells were transferred prior to sequencing. However, responsiveness was strongly correlated with systemic measures of tumor-specific T-cell and B-cell responses, which along with systemic assessment of TCR expansion, may serve as the most useful predictors for clinical responsiveness in future clinical trials of TNBC utilizing anti-PD1/anti-CTLA4 ICB.

KEYWORDS:

TCR sequencing; breast cancer; checkpoint blockade; immune responses to cancer; immunomodulation; triple-negative breast cancer; tumor antigens

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