Infusion of HER2-specific T cells, derived from vaccine-primed patients and expanded with IL2/IL12, has induced tumor regression in a minority of patients with metastatic treatment-refractory HER2+ breast cancer. We questioned whether alteration of cytokine growth factors used to culture vaccine-primed T cells could improve antitumor activity.
Using the TgMMTV-neu murine mammary tumor model, we cultured T cells derived from mice immunized with a previously defined neu class II peptide, p98-114 (neu p98), and evaluated different cytokine combinations for expansion.
Infusion of neu p98-specific T-cell lines derived from all cytokine conditions evaluated resulted in significant antitumor activity compared with infused naïve splenocytes (P < 0.05). T cells cultured with IL2/IL21 could uniquely mediate complete regression of spontaneous mammary tumors. IL2/IL21 cultured neu-specific T cells demonstrated a different cytokine secretion pattern as compared with other cultured T cells; secreting high levels of TNFα and IL17 (P < 0.05). Moreover, tumor-infiltrating CD8+ cells were significantly increased after the infusion of IL2/IL21 cultured T cells as compared with tumors treated with T cells expanded under other cytokine conditions (P < 0.001). The antitumor effect of the infusion of IL2/IL21 cultured cells was mediated by CD8 T cells. Depletion of TNFα or IL17, but not IFNγ, abrogated the tumor growth inhibition induced by the IL2/IL21 T cells and markedly decreased the influx of CD8 into tumors. Finally, IL2/IL21-cultured human antigen specific T cells also displayed a similar polyfunctional Th1/Th17 phenotype.
Expansion of HER2 vaccine-primed T cells with IL2/IL21 may have the potential to effectively mediate tumor regression when used in adoptive transfer. Clin Cancer Res; 1-10. ©2015 AACR.