Human double negative T cells target lung cancer via ligand-dependent mechanisms that can be enhanced by IL-15

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Background: The advents of novel immunotherapies have revolutionized the treatment of cancer. Adoptive cellular therapies using chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cells have achieved remarkable clinical responses in B cell leukemia and lymphoma but the effect on solid tumors including lung cancer is limited. Here we present data on the therapeutic potential of allogeneic CD3+CD4-CD8- double negative T (DNT) cells as a new cellular therapy for the treatment of lung cancer and underlying mechanisms. Methods: DNTs were enriched and expanded ex vivo from healthy donors and phenotyped by flow cytometry. Functionally, their cytotoxicity was determined against primary and established non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines in vitro or through in vivo adoptive transfer into xenograft models. Mechanistic analysis was performed using blocking antibodies against various cell surface and soluble markers. Furthermore, the role of IL-15 on DNT function was determined. Results: We demonstrated that ex vivo expanded DNTs can effectively lyse various human NSCLC cells in vitro and inhibit tumor growth in xenograft models. Expanded DNTs have a cytotoxic phenotype, as they express NKp30, NKG2D, DNAM-1, membrane TRAIL (mTRAIL), perforin and granzyme B, and secrete IFNγ and soluble TRAIL (sTRAIL). DNT-mediated cytotoxicity was dependent on a combination of tumor-expressed ligands for NKG2D, DNAM-1, NKp30 and/or receptors for TRAIL, which differ among different NSCLC cell lines. Furthermore, stimulation of DNTs with IL-15 increased expression of effector molecules on DNTs, their TRAIL production and cytotoxicity against NSCLC in vitro and in vivo. Conclusion: Healthy donor-derived DNTs can target NSCLC in vitro and in vivo. DNTs recognize tumors via innate receptors which can be up-regulated by IL-15. DNTs have the potential to be used as a novel adoptive cell therapy for lung cancer either alone or in combination with IL-15.




Yao, J., Ly, D., Dervovic, D., Fang, L., Lee, J. B., Kang, H., … Zhang, L. (2019). Human double negative T cells target lung cancer via ligand-dependent mechanisms that can be enhanced by IL-15. Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, 7(1).

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