Neoantigen-reactive CD8+ T cells affect clinical outcome of adoptive transfer with tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in melanoma

Nikolaj Pagh Kristensen, Christina Heeke, Siri A. Tvingsholm, Annie Borch, Arianna Draghi, Michael D. Crowther, Ibel Carri, Kamilla K. Munk, Jeppe Sejerø Holm, Anne-Mette Bjerregaard, Amalie Kai Bentzen, Andrea M. Marquard, Zoltan Szallasi, Nicholas McGranahan, Rikke Andersen, Morten Nielsen, Göran B Jönsson, Marco Donia, Inge Marie Svane, Sine Reker Hadrup

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BACKGROUND. Neoantigen-driven recognition and T cell-mediated killing contribute to tumor clearance following adoptive cell therapy (ACT) with Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TILs). Yet, how diversity, frequency, and persistence of expanded neoepitope-specific CD8+ T cells derived from TIL infusion products affect patient outcome is not fully determined.
METHODS. Using barcoded pMHC multimers, we provide a comprehensive mapping of CD8+ T cells recognizing neoepitopes in TIL infusion products and blood samples from 26 metastatic melanoma patients who received ACT.
RESULTS. We identified 106 neoepitopes within TIL infusion products corresponding to 1.8% of all predicted neoepitopes. We observed neoepitope-specific recognition to be virtually devoid in TIL infusion products given to patients with progressive disease outcome. Moreover, we found that the frequency of neoepitope-specific CD8+ T cells in TIL infusion products correlated with in-creased survival, and that detection of engrafted CD8+ T cells in post-treatment (i.e. originating from the TIL infusion product) were unique to responders of TIL-ACT. Finally, we found that a transcriptional signature for lymphocyte activity within the tumor microenvironment was associated with a higher frequency of neoepitope-specific CD8+ T cells in the infusion product.
CONCLUTIONS. These data support previous case studies of neoepitope-specific CD8+ T cells in melanoma, and indicate that successful TIL-ACT is associated with an expansion of neoepitope-specific CD8+ T cells.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number2
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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