Research Papers:

Potent CD4+ T cell-associated antitumor memory responses induced by trifunctional bispecific antibodies in combination with immune checkpoint inhibition

Nina Deppisch, Peter Ruf, Nina Eißler, Horst Lindhofer and Ralph Mocikat _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:4520-4529. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.13888

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Nina Deppisch1, Peter Ruf2, Nina Eißler1, Horst Lindhofer2, Ralph Mocikat1,3

1Institut für Molekulare Immunologie, Helmholtz-Zentrum München, Germany

2Trion Research GmbH, Martinsried, Germany

3AG Translationale Molekulare Immunologie, Helmholtz-Zentrum München, Germany

Correspondence to:

Ralph Mocikat, email: [email protected]

Keywords: tumor antigen, T-cell activation, melanoma, CTLA-4, cancer immunotherapy

Received: July 25, 2016     Accepted: December 05, 2016     Published: December 10, 2016


Combinatorial approaches of immunotherapy hold great promise for the treatment of malignant disease. Here, we examined the potential of combining an immune checkpoint inhibitor and trifunctional bispecific antibodies (trAbs) in a preclinical melanoma mouse model using surrogate antibodies of Ipilimumab and Catumaxomab, both of which have already been approved for clinical use. The specific binding arms of trAbs redirect T cells to tumor cells and trigger direct cytotoxicity, while the Fc region activates accessory cells eventually giving rise to a long-lasting immunologic memory. We show here that T cells redirected to tumor cells by trAbs strongly upregulate CTLA-4 expression in vitro and in vivo. This suggested that blocking of CTLA-4 in combination with trAb treatment enhances T-cell activation in a tumor-selective manner. However, when mice were challenged with melanoma cells and subsequently treated with antibodies, there was only a moderate beneficial effect of the combinatorial approach in vivo with regard to direct tumor destruction in comparison to trAb therapy alone. By contrast, a significantly improved vaccination effect was obtained by CTLA-4 blocking during trAb-dependent immunization. This resulted in enhanced rejection of melanoma cells given after pre-immunization. The improved immunologic memory induced by the combinatorial approach correlated with an increased humoral antitumor response as measured in the sera and an expansion of CD4+ memory T cells found in the spleens.

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