Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research

CMVpp65 Vaccine Enhances the Antitumor Efficacy of Adoptively Transferred CD19-Redirected CMV-Specific T Cells.

PMID 25838392


T cells engineered with chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) recognizing CD19 can induce complete remission of B-cell malignancies in clinical trials; however, in some disease settings, CAR therapy confers only modest clinical benefit due to attenuated persistence of CAR T cells. The purpose of this study was to enhance persistence and augment the antitumor activity of adoptively transferred CD19CAR T cells by restimulating CAR(+) T cells through an endogenous cytomegalovirus (CMV)-specific T-cell receptor. CMV-specific T cells from CMV seropositive healthy donors were selected after stimulation with pp65 protein and transduced with clinical-grade lentivirus expressing the CD19R:CD28:ζ/EGFRt CAR. The resultant bispecific T cells, targeting CMV and CD19, were expanded via CD19 CAR-mediated signals using CD19-expressing cells. The bispecific T cells proliferated vigorously after engagement with either endogenous CMVpp65 T-cell receptors or engineered CD19 CARs, exhibiting specific cytolytic activity and IFNγ secretion. Upon adoptive transfer into immunodeficient mice bearing human lymphomas, the bispecific T cells exhibited proliferative response and enhanced antitumor activity following CMVpp65 peptide vaccine administration. We have redirected CMV-specific T cells to recognize and lyse tumor cells via CD19CARs, while maintaining their ability to proliferate in response to CMV antigen stimulation. These results illustrate the clinical applications of CMV vaccine to augment the antitumor activity of adoptively transferred CD19CAR T cells in patients with B-cell malignancies.