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20.04.2016 | Original Article | Ausgabe 6/2016

Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy 6/2016

Disease progression in recurrent glioblastoma patients treated with the VEGFR inhibitor axitinib is associated with increased regulatory T cell numbers and T cell exhaustion

Zeitschrift:
Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy > Ausgabe 6/2016
Autoren:
Stephanie Du Four, Sarah K. Maenhout, Daphné Benteyn, Brenda De Keersmaecker, Johnny Duerinck, Kris Thielemans, Bart Neyns, Joeri L. Aerts
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s00262-016-1836-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Abstract

Background

Recurrent glioblastoma is associated with a poor overall survival. Antiangiogenic therapy results in a high tumor response rate but has limited impact on survival. Immunotherapy has emerged as an efficient treatment modality for some cancers, and preclinical evidence indicates that anti-VEGF(R) therapy can counterbalance the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment.

Methods

We collected peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of patients with recurrent glioblastoma treated in a randomized phase II clinical trial comparing the effect of axitinib with axitinib plus lomustine and analyzed the immunophenotype of PBMC, the production of cytokines and expression of inhibitory molecules by circulating T cells.

Results

PBMC of 18 patients were collected at baseline and at 6 weeks after initiation of study treatment. Axitinib increased the number of naïve CD8+ T cells and central memory CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and reduced the TIM3 expression on CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Patients diagnosed with progressive disease on axitinib had a significantly increased number of regulatory T cells and an increased level of PD-1 expression on CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. In addition, reduced numbers of cytokine-producing T cells were found in progressive patients as compared to patients responding to treatment.

Conclusion

Our results suggest that axitinib treatment in patients with recurrent glioblastoma has a favorable impact on immune function. At the time of acquired resistance to axitinib, we documented further enhancement of a preexisting immunosuppression. Further investigations on the role of axitinib as potential combination partner with immunotherapy are necessary.

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