Broadening specificity and enhancing cytotoxicity of adoptive T cells for nasopharyngeal carcinoma immunotherapy

Damiana Antonia Faè, Debora Martorelli, Katy Mastorci, Elena Muraro, Jessica Dal Col, Giovanni Franchin, Luigi Barzan, Elisa Comaro, Emanuela Vaccher, Antonio Rosato, Riccardo Dolcetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although promising, clinical responses to adoptive immunotherapy for nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) are still limited by the restricted number of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antigens that can be targeted and their poor immunogenicity. Our previous work indicated that the immunogenic features of the NPCassociated viral antigen BARF1 may be exploited for immunotherapeutic purposes. Nevertheless, T-cell lines obtained with current protocols include only negligible numbers of BARF1-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes, pointing to the need to enrich these effectors in BARF1 specificities. Considering that in B lymphocytes BARF1 is mainly a lytic EBV antigen, we tested different EBV lytic-cycle inducers (TPA/butyric acid, doxorubicin, and cisplatin) used at suboptimal concentrations for their ability to upregulate BARF1 expression in lymphoblastoid B-cell lines (LCL), the commonly used antigen-presenting cells, without compromising their survival. The LCLs treated with doxorubicin (DX-LCL) can reproducibly and efficiently generate EBV-specific effectors enriched in BARF1 specificities from both healthy donors and NPC patients. These DX-LCLs also had more pronounced immunogenic properties, including HLA class I upregulation and expression of immunogenic cell death markers, such as enhanced calreticulin exposure and HMGB1 release. In particular, doxorubicin triggers an HMGB1 autocrine/ paracrine loop with its receptor, TLR4, which is also upregulated in DX-LCLs and is responsible for NF-kB activation and a delayed apoptosis that allows a prolonged stimulation of EBV-specific T-cell precursors. This protocol may thus constitute a valid alternative to the use of engineered LCLs to generate EBV-specific T-cell lines for adoptive immunotherapy, being relatively simple, easily upgradable to Good Manufacturing Practice standards, and therefore more broadly applicable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-440
Number of pages10
JournalCancer immunology research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Immunology


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