Anti-PD1 does not improve pyroptosis induced by γδ T cells but promotes tumor regression in a pleural mesothelioma mouse model

Frontiers in Immunology 2023 November 23 [Link]

Ka Sin Lui, Zuodong Ye, Hoi Ching Chan, Yoshimasa Tanaka, Allen Ka Loon Cheung


Introduction: Mesothelioma is an aggressive tumor in the pleural cavity that is difficult to treat. Diagnosis is usually late with minimal treatment options available for the patients and with unfavorable outcomes. However, recent advances in immunotherapy using γδ T cells may have potential against mesothelioma, given its ample tumoricidal and tumor-migratory properties could allow its infiltration to the widespread tumor mass. Thus, we hypothesize that Vδ2 T cells can perform cytotoxic activities against mesothelioma especially when combined with immune checkpoint blocker against PD-1.

Methods: Human Vδ2 T cells were expanded from peripheral blood mononuclear cells using Tetrakis-pivaloyloxymethyl 2-(thiazole-2-ylamino) ethylidene-1,1-bisphosphonate (PTA) plus IL-2 for 13 days, before used to test for cytotoxicity against mesothelioma cell lines. Mesothelioma-bearing mice was established by Intrapleural administration of mesothelioma cell lines to test for the efficacy of Vδ2 T cells plus anti-PD-1 antibody combination treatment. Pyroptosis was evaluated by cell morphology, western blot analysis, and ELISA experiments. Flow cytometry was used to examine expression of BTN2A1, BTN3A1, PD-L1, PD-L2 on mesothelioma cell lines. Immunofluorescence staining was performed to detect Vδ2 T cells post adoptive transfer and characteristics of pyroptosis in ex vivo mesothelioma tissue sections.

Results: Indeed, our data demonstrated that Vδ2 T cells killing mesothelioma can be enhanced by anti-PD-1 antibody in vitro, especially for high PD-1 expressing cells, and in vivo in the intrapleural mesothelioma mice model established by us. Adoptive transfer of Vδ2 T cells into these mice leads to tumor regression by 30-40% compared to control. Immunofluorescence of the tumor section confirmed infiltration of Vδ2 T cells into the tumor, especially to cells with BTN2A1 expression (a Vδ2 T cell activating molecule) despite PD-L1 co-localization. Interestingly, these cells co-expressed cleaved gasdermin D, suggesting that pyroptosis was induced by Vδ2 T cells. This was verified by Vδ2 T/mesothelioma co-culture experiments demonstrating membrane ballooning morphology, increased cleaved caspase-3 and gasdermin E, and upregulated IL-1β and IL-18.

Discussion: Vδ2 T cells plus anti-PD1 exhibited cytotoxicity against mesothelioma in vivo. However, we found no advantage for anti-PD-1 against PD-1 high expressing Vδ2 T cells in promoting pyroptosis. Taken together, our work demonstrated that Vδ2 T cells combined with anti-PD-1 antibody can be developed as a potential combination immunotherapy for mesothelioma.