Background: Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells have recently been demonstrated to extract and express cognate tumor antigens through trogocytosis. This process may contribute to tumor antigen escape, T cell exhaustion, and fratricide, which plays a central role in CAR dysfunction. We sought to evaluate the importance of this effect in epidermal growth factor receptor variant III (EGFRvIII) specific CAR T cells targeting glioma. Methods: EGFRvIII-specific CAR T cells were generated from various donors and analyzed for cytotoxicity, trogocytosis, and in vivo therapeutic activity against intracranial glioma. Tumor autophagy resulting from CAR T cell activity was evaluated in combination with an autophagy inducer (verteporfin) or inhibitor (bafilomycin A1). Results: CAR T cell products derived from different donors induced markedly divergent levels of trogocytosis of tumor antigen as well as PD-L1 upon engaging target tumor cells correlating with variability in efficacy in mice. Pharmacological facilitation of CAR induced-autophagy with verteporfin inhibits trogocytic expression of tumor antigen on CARs and increases CAR persistence and efficacy in mice. Conclusion: These data propose CAR-induced autophagy as a mechanism counteracting CAR-induced trogocytosis and provide a new strategy to innovate high-performance CARs through pharmacological facilitation of T cell-induced tumor death.
- chimeric antigen receptor T cells
- epidermal growth factor receptor variant III
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research