Abstract Background Insufficient co-stimulation accounts for a great deal of the suboptimal activation of cytotoxic CD8 T cells (CTLs) and presumably unsatisfactory clinical expectation of PD1/PD-L1 therapy. Tumor-derived soluble NKG2D ligands are associated with poor clinical response to PD1/PD-L1 blockade therapy in cancer patients. One of the mostly occurring tumor-derived soluble NKG2D ligands, the soluble MHC I chain related molecule (sMIC) can impair co-stimulation to CD8 T cells. We investigated whether co-targeting sMIC can provide optimal co-stimulation to CTLs and enhance the therapeutic effect of PD1/PD-L1 blockades. Methods Single agent therapy of a PD1/PD-L1 blockade antibody or a sMIC-targeting non-blocking antibody or a combination therapy of the two antibodies were implied to well-characterized pre-clinical MIC/sMIC+ tumor models that closely resemble the NKG2D-mediated oncoimmune dynamics of MIC+ cancer patients. Therapeutic efficacy and associated effector mechanisms were evaluated. Results We show that antibody co-targeting sMIC enables or enhances the response of sMIC+ tumors to PD1/PD-L1 blockade therapy. The therapy response of the combination therapy was associated with enhanced antigen-specific CD8 T cell enrichment and function in tumors. We show that co-targeting sMIC with a nonblocking antibody provides antigen-specific CD8 T cells with NKG2D and CD28 dual co-stimulation, in addition to elimination of inhibitory signals, and thus amplifies antigen-specific CD8 T cell anti-tumor responses. Conclusion Our findings provide the proof-of-concept rationale and previously undiscovered mechanisms for co-targeting sMIC to enable and enhance the response to PD1/PD-L1 blockade therapy in sMIC+ cancer patients.
|Date made available||2019|