Purpose: Characterization of tumor antigen–specific CD4 T-cell responses in healthy donors and malignant melanoma patients using an in vitro amplified T-cell library screening procedure. Patients and Methods: A high-throughput, human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-independent approach was used to estimate at unprecedented high sensitivity level precursor frequencies of tumor antigen- and neoantigen-specific CD4 T cells in healthy donors and patients with cancer. Frequency estimation was combined with isolation and functional characterization of identified tumor-reactive CD4 T-cell clones. Results: In healthy donors, we report frequencies of na€ve tumor-associated antigen (TAA)-specific CD4 T cells comparable with those of CD4 T cells specific for infectious agents (Tetanus toxoid). Interestingly, we also identified low, but consistent numbers of memory CD4 T cells specific for several TAAs. In patients with melanoma, low frequencies of circulating TAA-specific CD4 T cells were detected that increased after peptide-based immunotherapy. Such antitumor TAA-specific CD4 T-cell responses were also detectable within the tumor-infiltrated tissues. TAA-specific CD4 T cells in patients displayed a highly polyfunctional state, with partial skewing to Type-2 polarization. Finally, we report the applicability of this approach to the detection and amplification of neoantigen-specific CD4 T cells. Conclusions: This simple, noninvasive, high-throughput screening of tumor- and neoantigen-specific CD4 T cells requires little biologic material, is HLA class II independent and allows the concomitant screening for a large number of tumor antigens of interest, including neoantigens. This approach will facilitate the immunomonitoring of preexisting and therapy-induced CD4 T-cell responses, and accelerate the development of CD4 T-cell–based therapies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research