T-Cell Therapy Using Interleukin-21-Primed Cytotoxic T-Cell Lymphocytes Combined With Cytotoxic T-Cell Lymphocyte Antigen-4 Blockade Results in Long-Term Cell Persistence and Durable Tumor Regression.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Volume 34, Issue 31, p.3787-3795 (2016)


Immune Monitoring Core Facility


PURPOSE: Peripheral blood-derived antigen-specific cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) provide a readily available source of effector cells that can be administered with minimal toxicity in an outpatient setting. In metastatic melanoma, this approach results in measurable albeit modest clinical responses in patients resistant to conventional therapy. We reasoned that concurrent cytotoxic T-cell lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4) checkpoint blockade might enhance the antitumor activity of adoptively transferred CTLs. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Autologous MART1-specific CTLs were generated by priming with peptide-pulsed dendritic cells in the presence of interleukin-21 and enriched by peptide-major histocompatibility complex multimer-guided cell sorting. This expeditiously yielded polyclonal CTL lines uniformly expressing markers associated with an enhanced survival potential. In this first-in-human strategy, 10 patients with stage IV melanoma received the MART1-specific CTLs followed by a standard course of anti-CTLA-4 (ipilimumab). RESULTS: The toxicity profile of the combined treatment was comparable to that of ipilimumab monotherapy. Evaluation of best responses at 12 weeks yielded two continuous complete remissions, one partial response (PR) using RECIST criteria (two PRs using immune-related response criteria), and three instances of stable disease. Infused CTLs persisted with frequencies up to 2.9% of CD8(+) T cells for as long as the patients were monitored (up to 40 weeks). In patients who experienced complete remissions, PRs, or stable disease, the persisting CTLs acquired phenotypic and functional characteristics of long-lived memory cells. Moreover, these patients also developed responses to nontargeted tumor antigens (epitope spreading). CONCLUSION: We demonstrate that combining antigen-specific CTLs with CTLA-4 blockade is safe and produces durable clinical responses, likely reflecting both enhanced activity of transferred cells and improved recruitment of new responses, highlighting the promise of this strategy.