Although tumors from melanoma patients can often provide a source of therapeutically active T cells for adoptive therapy, it has historically proved challenging to employ peripheral blood as the T cell source for any type of cancer. We have observed nonetheless that HER2-specific T cells can be Ag-driven and enriched in culture when PBMCs from HER2-vaccinated breast cancer patients are treated with exogenous IL12. We hypothesized that stimulating innate immunity could further improve PBMC cultures by activating the DC subpopulation more effectively than adding exogenous rIL12. Bulk PBMC exposure to optimized TLR agonists produced vast quantities of IL12 and IL23, and upregulated HLA-DR, B7.1 and CD40 in the DC subpopulation, effects not produced by exogenous IL12. Subsequent IL7 exposure emulated homeostatic proliferation, selectively causing the Ag-driven T cell subset both to proliferate faster and to strongly resist apoptosis. Ag-specificity within two weeks approached 80-100% of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells for recall Ags and 1-15% for a wide array of MUC1- and HER2-derived peptides, including the ability to distinguish glycoforms. Culture-expanded T cells retained a young CD28+/CD56- phenotype, uniformly expressed ROR-γ during culture, variably produced IL-2 and/or IL-17, and uniformly expressed T-bet and secreted IFN-γ when reexposed to Ag. Such T1/T17 bipotency may be ideal for anti-tumor adoptive therapy and highly efficient for use in Ag discovery.
- Copyright © 2013 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.