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Rataj, Felicitas; Kraus, Fabian B. T.; Chaloupka, Michael; Grassmann, Simon; Heise, Constanze; Cadilha, Bruno L.; Duewell, Peter; Endres, Stefan; Kobold, Sebastian (2018): PD1-CD28 Fusion Protein Enables CD4+ T Cell Help for Adoptive T Cell Therapy in Models of Pancreatic Cancer and Non-hodgkin Lymphoma. In: Frontiers in Immunology, Vol. 9, 1955
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Abstract

Background: Interaction of the programmed death receptor 1 (PD-1) and its ligand, PD-L1, suppresses T cell activity and permits tumors to evade T cell-mediated immune surveillance. We have recently demonstrated that antigen-specific CD8+ T cells transduced with a PD1-CD28 fusion protein are protected from D-1-mediated inhibition. We have now investigated the potential of PD1-CD28 fusion protein-transduced CD4+ T cells alone or in combination with CD8+ T cells for immunotherapy of pancreatic cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Methods: OVA-specific CD4+ and CD8+ were retrovirally transduced with the PD1-CD28 fusion protein. Cytokine release, proliferation, cytotoxic activity, and phenotype of transduced T cells were assessed in the context of Panc02-OVA (murine pancreatic cancer model) and E.G7-PD-L1 (murine T cell lymphoma model) cells. Results: Stimulation of PD1-CD28 fusion protein-transduced CD4+ T cells with anti-CD3 and recombinant PD-L1 induced specific T cell activation, as measured by IFN-y release and T cell proliferation. Coculture with Panc02-OVA or E.G7-PD-L1 tumor cells also led to specific activation of CD4+ T cells. Cytokine release and T cell proliferation was most effective when tumor cells simultaneously encountered genetically engineered CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Synergy between both cell populations was also observed for specific tumor cell lysis. T cell cytotoxicity was mediated via granzyme B release and mediated enhanced tumor control in vivo. Transduced CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in co-culture with tumor cells developed a predominant central memory phenotype over time. Different ratios of CD4+ and CD8+ transduced T cells led to a significant increase of IFN-y and IL-2 secretion positively correlating with CD4+ T cell numbers used. Mechanistically, IL-2 and MHC-I were central to the synergistic activity of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, since neutralization of IL-2 prevented the crosstalk between these cell populations. Conclusion: PD1-CD28 fusion protein-transduced CD4+ T cells significantly improved anti-tumoral effect of fusion protein-transduced CD8+ T cells. Thus, our results indicate that PD1-CD28 fusion protein-transduced CD4+ T cells have the potential to overcome the PD-1-PD-L1 immunosuppressive axis in pancreatic cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.