Journal Article
. 2011 Jun; 71(16):5445-54.
doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-1138.

The ICOS/ICOSL pathway is required for optimal antitumor responses mediated by anti-CTLA-4 therapy

Tihui Fu 1 Qiuming He  Padmanee Sharma  
  • PMID: 21708958
  •     94 citations


The anti-CTL-associated antigen 4 (anti-CTLA-4) antibody ipilimumab is the first agent to show improved survival in a randomized phase III trial that enrolled patients with metastatic melanoma. Studies are ongoing to identify mechanisms that elicit clinical benefit in the setting of anti-CTLA-4 therapy. We previously reported that treated patients had an increase in the frequency of T cells expressing the inducible costimulator (ICOS) molecule, a T-cell-specific molecule that belongs to the CD28/CTLA-4/B7 immunoglobulin superfamily. ICOS and its ligand (ICOSL) have been shown to play diverse roles in T-cell responses such as mediating autoimmunity as well as enhancing the development/activity of regulatory T cells. These seemingly opposing roles have made it difficult to determine whether the ICOS/ICOSL pathway is necessary for antitumor responses. To determine whether the ICOS/ICOSL pathway might play a causal role in the antitumor effects mediated by anti-CTLA-4, we conducted studies in ICOS-sufficient and ICOS-deficient mice bearing B16/BL6 melanoma. We show that ICOS(+) T cells comprised a population of Th1 cytokine producing and tumor antigen-specific effector cells. Furthermore, in the absence of ICOS, antitumor T-cell responses elicited by anti-CTLA-4 are significantly diminished, thereby impairing tumor rejection. Our findings establish that the ICOS/ICOSL pathway is necessary for the optimal therapeutic effect of anti-CTLA-4, thus implicating this pathway as a target for future combinatorial strategies to improve the efficacy of anti-CTLA-4 therapy.

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