Journal Article
. 2017 Jun; 8:572.
doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00572.

PD-1 Blockade Promotes Emerging Checkpoint Inhibitors in Enhancing T Cell Responses to Allogeneic Dendritic Cells

Carmen Stecher 1 Claire Battin 1 Judith Leitner 1 Markus Zettl 2 Katharina Grabmeier-Pfistershammer 3 Christoph Höller 4 Gerhard J Zlabinger 3 Peter Steinberger 1 
  • PMID: 28588576
  •     53 References
  •     32 citations


Immune checkpoint inhibitors, which target coinhibitory T cell molecules to promote anticancer immune responses, are on the rise to become a new pillar of cancer therapy. However, current immune checkpoint-based therapies are successful only in a subset of patients and acquired resistances pose additional challenges. Finding new targets and combining checkpoint inhibitors might help to overcome these limitations. In this study, human T cells stimulated with allogeneic dendritic cells (DCs) were used to compare immune checkpoint inhibitors targeting TIM-3, BTLA, LAG-3, CTLA-4, and TIGIT alone or in combination with a PD-1 antibody. We found that PD-1 blockade bears a unique potency to enhance T cell proliferation and cytokine production. Other checkpoint inhibitors failed to significantly augment T cell responses when used alone. However, antibodies to TIM-3, BTLA, LAG-3, and CTLA-4 enhanced T cell proliferation in presence of a PD-1 antibody. Upregulation of coinhibitory T cell receptors upon PD-1 blockade was identified as a potential mechanism for synergistic effects between checkpoint inhibitors. Donor-specific variation in response to immune checkpoint inhibitors was attributed to the T cells rather than DCs. Additionally, we analyzed the regulation of checkpoint molecules and their ligands on T cells and allogeneic DCs in coculture, which suggested a PD-1 blockade-dependent crosstalk between T cells and APC. Our results indicate that several immune checkpoint inhibitors have the capacity to enhance T cell responses when combined with PD-1 blockade. Additional in vitro studies on human T cells will be useful to identify antibody combinations with the potential to augment T cell responses in cancer patients.

Keywords: BTLA; CD160; CTLA-4; LAG-3; PD-1; TIM-3; coinhibitory receptors; immune checkpoint.

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