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  • Platelet PD-L1 reflects collective intratumoral PD-L1 expression and predicts immunotherapy response in non-small cell lung cancer NATURE COMMUNICATIONS Hinterleitner, C., Straehle, J., Malenke, E., Hinterleitner, M., Henning, M., Seehawer, M., Bilich, T., Heitmann, J., Lutz, M., Mattern, S., Scheuermann, S., Horger, M., Maurer, S., Walz, J., Fend, F., Handgretinger, R., Seitz, C., Weigelin, B., Singer, S., Salih, H., Borst, O., Kopp, H., Zender, L. 2021; 12 (1): 7005


    Immune-checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) have transformed oncological therapy. Up to 20% of all non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) show durable responses upon treatment with ICI, however, robust markers to predict therapy response are missing. Here we show that blood platelets interact with lung cancer cells and that PD-L1 protein is transferred from tumor cells to platelets in a fibronectin 1, integrin α5β1 and GPIbα-dependent manner. Platelets from NSCLC patients are found to express PD-L1 and platelet PD-L1 possess the ability to inhibit CD4 and CD8 T-cells. An algorithm is developed to calculate the activation independent adjusted PD-L1 payload of platelets (pPD-L1Adj.), which is found to be superior in predicting the response towards ICI as compared to standard histological PD-L1 quantification on tumor biopsies. Our data suggest that platelet PD-L1 reflects the collective tumor PD-L1 expression, plays important roles in tumor immune evasion and overcomes limitations of histological quantification of often heterogeneous intratumoral PD-L1 expression.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-27303-7

    View details for Web of Science ID 000725093800011

    View details for PubMedID 34853305

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8636618

  • SARS-CoV-2-reactive T-cell receptors isolated from convalescent COVID-19 patients confer potent T-cell effector function EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY Brunk, F., Moritz, A., Nelde, A., Bilich, T., Casadei, N., Fraschka, S. K., Heitmann, J. S., Hoerber, S., Peter, A., Rammensee, H., Singh, H., Walz, J., Maurer, D., Wagner, C. 2021


    Both B cells and T cells are involved in an effective immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the disease-causing virus of COVID-19. While B cells-with the indispensable help of CD4+ T cells-are essential to generate neutralizing antibodies, T cells on their own have been recognized as another major player in effective anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunity. In this report, we provide insights into the characteristics of individual HLA-A*02:01- and HLA-A*24:02-restricted SARS-CoV-2-reactive TCRs, isolated from convalescent COVID-19 patients. We observed that SARS-CoV-2-reactive T-cell populations were clearly detectable in convalescent samples and that TCRs isolated from these T cell clones were highly functional upon ectopic re-expression. The SARS-CoV-2-reactive TCRs described in this report mediated potent TCR signaling in reporter assays with low nanomolar EC50 values. We further demonstrate that these SARS-CoV-2-reactive TCRs conferred powerful T-cell effector function to primary CD8+ T cells as evident by a robust anti-SARS-CoV-2 IFN-γ response and in vitro cytotoxicity. We also provide an example of a long-lasting anti-SARS-CoV-2 memory response by reisolation of one of the retrieved TCRs 5 months after initial sampling. Taken together, these findings contribute to a better understanding of anti-SARS-CoV-2 T-cell immunity and may contribute to paving the way toward immunotherapeutics approaches targeting SARS-CoV-2.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/eji.202149290

    View details for Web of Science ID 000695334300001

    View details for PubMedID 34424997

  • Preexisting and Post-COVID-19 Immune Responses to SARS-CoV-2 in Patients with Cancer CANCER DISCOVERY Bilich, T., Roerden, M., Maringer, Y., Nelde, A., Heitmann, J. S., Dubbelaar, M. L., Peter, A., Hoerber, S., Bauer, J., Rieth, J., Wacker, M., Berner, F., Flatz, L., Held, S., Brossart, P., Maerklin, M., Wagner, P., Erne, E., Klein, R., Rammensee, H., Salih, H. R., Walz, J. S. 2021; 11 (8): 1982-1995


    Patients with cancer, in particular patients with hematologic malignancies, are at increased risk for critical illness upon COVID-19. We here assessed antibody as well as CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses in unexposed and SARS-CoV-2-infected patients with cancer to characterize SARS-CoV-2 immunity and to identify immunologic parameters contributing to COVID-19 outcome. Unexposed patients with hematologic malignancies presented with reduced prevalence of preexisting SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactive CD4+ T-cell responses and signs of T-cell exhaustion compared with patients with solid tumors and healthy volunteers. Whereas SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses did not differ between patients with COVID-19 and cancer and healthy volunteers, intensity, expandability, and diversity of SARS-CoV-2 T-cell responses were profoundly reduced in patients with cancer, and the latter associated with a severe course of COVID-19. This identifies impaired SARS-CoV-2 T-cell immunity as a potential determinant for dismal outcome of COVID-19 in patients with cancer. SIGNIFICANCE: This first comprehensive analysis of SARS-CoV-2 immune responses in patients with cancer reports on the potential implications of impaired SARS-CoV-2 T-cell responses for understanding pathophysiology and predicting severity of COVID-19, which in turn might allow for the development of therapeutic measures and vaccines for this vulnerable patient population.See related commentary by Salomé and Horowitz, p. 1877.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 1861.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000683016500029

    View details for PubMedID 34011563