Adjuvant dendritic cell-based immunotherapy after cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy in patients with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma: a phase II clinical trial

Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer 2023 August [Link]

Michelle V Dietz, Katrien L A Quintelier, Job P van Kooten, Nadine L de Boer, Madelief Vink, Alexandra R M Brandt-Kerkhof, Cornelis Verhoef, Yvan Saeys, Joachim G J V Aerts, Marcella Willemsen, Sofie Van Gassen, Eva V E Madsen


Background: Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive malignancy with a poor prognosis. Cytoreductive surgery (CRS) and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) improves survival outcomes, but recurrence rates remain high. Dendritic cell-based immunotherapy (DCBI) showed promising results in patients with pleural mesothelioma. The primary aim of this trial was to determine feasibility of adjuvant DCBI after CRS-HIPEC.

Methods: This open-label, single-center, phase II clinical trial, performed in the Erasmus MC Cancer Institute Rotterdam, the Netherlands, included patients with epithelioid MPM. 4-6 weeks before CRS-HIPEC leukapheresis was performed. 8-10 weeks after surgery, DCBI was administered three times biweekly. Feasibility was defined as administration of at least three adjuvant vaccinations in 75% of patients. Comprehensive immune cell profiling was performed on peripheral blood samples prior to and during treatment.

Results: All patients who received CRS-HIPEC (n=16) were successfully treated with adjuvant DCBI. No severe toxicity related to DCBI was observed. Median progression-free survival (PFS) was 12 months (IQR 5-23) and median overall survival was not reached. DCBI was associated with increased proliferation of circulating natural killer cells and CD4+ T-helper (Th) cells. Co-stimulatory molecules, including ICOS, HLA-DR, and CD28 were upregulated predominantly on memory or proliferating Th-cells and minimally on CD8+ cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTLs) after treatment. However, an increase in CD8+ terminally differentiated effector memory (Temra) cells positively correlated with PFS, whereas co-expression of ICOS and Ki67 on CTLs trended towards a positive correlation.

Conclusions: Adjuvant DCBI after CRS-HIPEC in patients with MPM was feasible and safe, and showed promising survival outcomes. DCBI had an immune modulatory effect on lymphoid cells and induced memory T-cell activation. Moreover, an increase of CD8+ Temra cells was more pronounced in patients with longer PFS. These data provide rationale for future combination treatment strategies.