Cancer immunology research

Combined targeting of costimulatory (OX40) and coinhibitory (CTLA-4) pathways elicits potent effector T cells capable of driving robust antitumor immunity.

PMID 24778278


Ligation of the TNF receptor family costimulatory molecule OX40 (CD134) with an agonist anti-OX40 monoclonal antibody (mAb) enhances antitumor immunity by augmenting T-cell differentiation as well as turning off the suppressive activity of the FoxP3(+)CD4(+) regulatory T cells (Treg). In addition, antibody-mediated blockade of the checkpoint inhibitor CTLA-4 releases the "brakes" on T cells to augment tumor immunotherapy. However, monotherapy with these agents has limited therapeutic benefit particularly against poorly immunogenic murine tumors. Therefore, we examined whether the administration of agonist anti-OX40 therapy in the presence of CTLA-4 blockade would enhance tumor immunotherapy. Combined anti-OX40/anti-CTLA-4 immunotherapy significantly enhanced tumor regression and the survival of tumor-bearing hosts in a CD4 and CD8 T cell-dependent manner. Mechanistic studies revealed that the combination immunotherapy directed the expansion of effector T-bet(high)/Eomes(high) granzyme B(+) CD8 T cells. Dual immunotherapy also induced distinct populations of Th1 [interleukin (IL)-2, IFN-γ], and, surprisingly, Th2 (IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13) CD4 T cells exhibiting increased T-bet and Gata-3 expression. Furthermore, IL-4 blockade inhibited the Th2 response, while maintaining the Th1 CD4 and effector CD8 T cells that enhanced tumor-free survival. These data demonstrate that refining the global T-cell response during combination immunotherapy can further enhance the therapeutic efficacy of these agents.