All Publications

  • Phenotypic and functional analysis of malignant mesothelioma tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes ONCOIMMUNOLOGY Klampatsa, A., O'Brien, S. M., Thompson, J. C., Rao, A. S., Stadanlick, J. E., Martinez, M. C., Liousia, M., Cantu, E., Cengel, K., Moon, E. K., Singhal, S., Eruslanov, E. B., Albelda, S. M. 2019; 8 (9): e1638211


    Given the growing interest and promising preliminary results of immunotherapy in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), it has become important to more fully understand the immune landscape in this tumor. This may be especially relevant in deciding who might benefit most from checkpoint blockade or agonist antibody therapy. Since the phenotype of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in MPM has not been fully described and their function has not been carefully assessed, we collected fresh tumor and blood from 22 patients undergoing surgical resection and analysed single cell suspensions by flow cytometry. The functionality of TILs was assessed by measurement of cytokine expression (IFN-γ) following overnight stimulation ex vivo. Results showed low numbers of CD8+ TILs whose function was either moderately or severely suppressed. The degree of TIL hypofunction did not correlate with the presence of co-existing macrophages or neutrophils, nor with expression of the inhibitory receptors PD-1, CD39 and CTLA-4. Hypofunction was associated with higher numbers of CD4 regulatory T cells (Tregs) and with expression of the inhibitory receptor TIGIT. On the other hand, presence of tissue-resident memory (Trm) cells and expression of TIM-3 on CD8+ cells were positively associated with cytokine production. However, Trm function was partially suppressed when the transcription factor Eomesodermin (Eomes) was co-expressed. Understanding the function of TILs in malignant mesothelioma may have clinical implications for immunotherapy, especially in choosing the best immunotherapy targets. Our data suggests that Treg cell blocking agents or TIGIT inhibitor antibodies might be especially valuable in these patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/2162402X.2019.1638211

    View details for Web of Science ID 000476282000001

    View details for PubMedID 31428531

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6685523

  • Function of Human Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes in Early-Stage Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer CANCER IMMUNOLOGY RESEARCH O'Brien, S. M., Klampatsa, A., Thompson, J. C., Martinez, M. C., Hwang, W., Rao, A. S., Standalick, J. E., Kim, S., Cantu, E., Litzkys, L. A., Singhal, S., Eruslanov, E. B., Moon, E. K., Albelda, S. M. 2019; 7 (6): 896–909


    Cancer progression is marked by dysfunctional tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) with high inhibitory receptor (IR) expression. Because IR blockade has led to clinical responses in some patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), we investigated how IRs influenced CD8+ TIL function from freshly digested early-stage NSCLC tissues using a killing assay and intracellular cytokine staining after in vitro T-cell restimulation. Early-stage lung cancer TIL function was heterogeneous with only about one third of patients showing decrements in cytokine production and lytic function. TIL hypofunction did not correlate with clinical factors, coexisting immune cells (macrophages, neutrophils, or CD4+ T regulatory cells), nor with PD-1, TIGIT, TIM-3, CD39, or CTLA-4 expression. Instead, we found that the presence of the integrin αeβ7 (CD103), characteristic of tissue-resident memory cells (TRM), was positively associated with cytokine production, whereas expression of the transcription factor Eomesodermin (Eomes) was negatively associated with TIL function. These data suggest that the functionality of CD8+ TILs from early-stage NSCLCs may be influenced by competition between an antitumor CD103+ TRM program and an exhaustion program marked by Eomes expression. Understanding the mechanisms of T-cell function in the progression of lung cancer may have clinical implications for immunotherapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-18-0713

    View details for Web of Science ID 000470290200006

    View details for PubMedID 31053597

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6548666

  • CAR T Cells for Solid Tumors: New Strategies for Finding, Infiltrating, and Surviving in the Tumor Microenvironment FRONTIERS IN IMMUNOLOGY Martinez, M., Moon, E. 2019; 10: 128


    Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, T cells that have been genetically engineered to express a receptor that recognizes a specific antigen, have given rise to breakthroughs in treating hematological malignancies. However, their success in treating solid tumors has been limited. The unique challenges posed to CAR T cell therapy by solid tumors can be described in three steps: finding, entering, and surviving in the tumor. The use of dual CAR designs that recognize multiple antigens at once and local administration of CAR T cells are both strategies that have been used to overcome the hurdle of localization to the tumor. Additionally, the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment has implications for T cell function in terms of differentiation and exhaustion, and combining CARs with checkpoint blockade or depletion of other suppressive factors in the microenvironment has shown very promising results to mitigate the phenomenon of T cell exhaustion. Finally, identifying and overcoming mechanisms associated with dysfunction in CAR T cells is of vital importance to generating CAR T cells that can proliferate and successfully eliminate tumor cells. The structure and costimulatory domains chosen for the CAR may play an important role in the overall function of CAR T cells in the TME, and "armored" CARs that secrete cytokines and third- and fourth-generation CARs with multiple costimulatory domains offer ways to enhance CAR T cell function.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fimmu.2019.00128

    View details for Web of Science ID 000457800800001

    View details for PubMedID 30804938

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6370640