Adoptive Transfer of IL13Rα2-Specific Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells Creates a Pro-inflammatory Environment in Glioblastoma

Katarzyna C. Pituch, Jason Miska, Giedre Krenciute, Wojciech K. Panek, Gina Li, Tania Rodriguez-Cruz, Meijing Wu, Yu Han, Maciej S. Lesniak, Stephen Gottschalk, Irina V. Balyasnikova*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


In order to fully harness the potential of immunotherapy with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-modified T cells, pre-clinical studies must be conducted in immunocompetent animal models that closely mimic the immunosuppressive malignant glioma (MG) microenvironment. Thus, the goal of this project was to study the in vivo fate of T cells expressing CARs specific for the MG antigen IL13Rα2 (IL13Rα2-CARs) in immunocompetent MG models. Murine T cells expressing IL13Rα2-CARs with a CD28.ζ (IL13Rα2-CAR.CD28.ζ) or truncated signaling domain (IL13Rα2-CAR.Δ) were generated by retroviral transduction, and their effector function was evaluated both in vitro and in vivo. IL13Rα2-CAR.CD28.ζ T cells’ specificity toward IL13Rα2 was confirmed through cytokine production and cytolytic activity. In vivo, a single intratumoral injection of IL13Rα2-CAR.CD28.ζ T cells significantly extended the survival of IL13Rα2-expressing GL261 and SMA560 glioma-bearing mice; long-term survivors were resistant to re-challenge with IL13Rα2-negative and IL13Rα2-positive tumors. IL13Rα2-CAR.CD28.ζ T cells proliferated, produced cytokines (IFNγ, TNF-α), and promoted a phenotypically pro-inflammatory glioma microenvironment by inducing a significant increase in the number of CD4 + and CD8 + T cells and CD8α + dendritic cells and a decrease in Ly6G + myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). Our data underline the significance of CAR T cell studies in immunocompetent hosts and further validate IL13Rα2-CAR T cells as an efficacious therapeutic strategy for MG. This study demonstrates that IL13Rα2-targeted CAR-modified T cells have anti-tumor activity in immunocompetent glioma models. While CAR T cells reversed the immunosuppressive glioma microenvironment, their effector function was eventually eroded. These results provide the rationale to explore combinatorial therapies or additional genetic modifications to enhance the anti-glioma activity of CAR T cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)986-995
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 4 2018


  • CAR T cells
  • IL13Rα2
  • brain
  • glioblastoma
  • pro-inflammatory
  • single-chain antibody
  • solid tumor microenvironment
  • syngeneic model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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