Differential effects of depleting versus programming tumor-associated macrophages on engineered T cells in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Ingunn M Stromnes, Adam L. Burrack, Ayaka Hulbert, Patrick Bonson, Cheryl Black, J. Scott Brockenbrough, Jackson F. Raynor, Ellen J. Spartz, Robert H. Pierce, Philip D. Greenberg, Sunil R. Hingorani

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10 Scopus citations


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is a lethal malignancy resistant to therapies, including immune-checkpoint blockade. We investigated two distinct strategies to modulate tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) to enhance cellular therapy targeting mesothelin in an autochthonous PDA mouse model. Administration of an antibody to colonystimulating factor (anti-Csf1R) depleted Ly6Clow protumorigenic TAMs and significantly enhanced endogenous T-cell intratumoral accumulation. Despite increasing the number of endogenous T cells at the tumor site, as previously reported, TAM depletion had only minimal impact on intratumoral accumulation and persistence of T cells engineered to express a murine mesothelin-specific T-cell receptor (TCR). TAM depletion interfered with the antitumor activity of the infused T cells in PDA, evidenced by reduced tumor cell apoptosis. In contrast, TAM programming with agonistic anti-CD40 increased both Ly6Chigh TAMs and the intratumoral accumulation and longevity of TCR-engineered T cells. Anti-CD40 significantly increased the frequency and number of proliferating and granzyme B+ engineered T cells, and increased tumor cell apoptosis. However, anti-CD40 failed to rescue intratumoral engineered T-cell IFNγ production. Thus, although functional modulation, rather than TAM depletion, enhanced the longevity of engineered T cells and increased tumor cell apoptosis, ultimately, anti-CD40 modulation was insufficient to rescue key effector defects in tumor-reactive T cells. This study highlights critical distinctions between howendogenous T cells that evolve in vivo, and engineered T cells with previously acquired effector activity, respond to modifications of the tumor microenvironment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)977-989
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Immunology Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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