PD-1+ polyfunctional T cells dominate the periphery after tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy for cancer

Marco Donia, Julie Westerlin Kjeldsen, Rikke Andersen, Marie Christine Wulff Westergaard, Valentina Bianchi, Mateusz Legut, Meriem Attaf, Barbara Szomolay, Sascha Ott, Garry Dolton, Rikke Birgitte Lyngaa, Sine Reker Hadrup, Andrew Kelvin Sewell, Inge Marie Svane

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    Infusion of highly heterogeneous populations of autologous tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) can result in tumor regression of exceptional duration. Initial tumor regression has been associated with persistence of tumor-specific TILs one month after infusion, but mechanisms leading to long-lived memory responses are currently unknown. Here we studied the dynamics of bulk tumor-reactive CD8+ T cell populations in patients with metastatic melanoma following treatment with TILs. Experimental Design: We analyzed the function and phenotype of tumor-reactive CD8+ T cells contained in serial blood samples of sixteen patients treated with TILs. Results: Polyfunctional tumor-reactive CD8+ T cells accumulated over time in the peripheral lymphocyte pool. Combinatorial analysis of multiple surface markers (CD57, CD27, CD45RO, PD-1 and LAG-3) showed a unique differentiation pattern of polyfunctional tumor-reactive CD8+ T cells, with highly specific PD-1 upregulation early after infusion. The differentiation and functional status appeared largely stable for up to 1 year post-infusion. Despite some degree of clonal diversification occurring in vivo within the bulk tumor-reactive CD8+ T cells, further analyses showed that CD8+ T cells specific for defined tumor-antigens had similar differentiation status. Conclusions: We demonstrated that tumor-reactive CD8+ T cell subsets which persist after TIL therapy are mostly polyfunctional, display a stable partially differentiated phenotype and express high levels of PD-1. These partially differentiated PD-1+ polyfunctional TILs have a high capacity for persistence and may be susceptible to PD-L1/PD-L2-mediated inhibition.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalClinical Cancer Research
    Issue number19
    Pages (from-to)5779-5788
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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