Immunoglobulin (Ig) G1 antibodies stimulate antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). Cetuximab, an IgG1 isotype monoclonal antibody, is a standard-of-care treatment for locally advanced and recurrent and/or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) and metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC). Here we review evidence regarding the clinical relevance of cetuximab-mediated ADCC and other immune functions and provide a biological rationale concerning why this property positions cetuximab as an ideal partner for immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) and other emerging immunotherapies. We performed a nonsystematic review of available preclinical and clinical data involving cetuximab-mediated immune activity and combination approaches of cetuximab with other immunotherapies, including ICIs, in SCCHN and CRC. Indeed, cetuximab mediates ADCC activity in the intratumoral space and primes adaptive and innate cellular immunity. However, counterregulatory mechanisms may lead to immunosuppressive feedback loops. Accordingly, there is a strong rationale for combining ICIs with cetuximab for the treatment of advanced tumors, as targeting CTLA-4, PD-1, and PD-L1 can ostensibly overcome these immunosuppressive counter-mechanisms in the tumor microenvironment. Moreover, combining ICIs (or other immunotherapies) with cetuximab is a promising strategy for boosting immune response and enhancing response rates and durability of response. Cetuximab immune activity-including, but not limited to, ADCC-provides a strong rationale for its combination with ICIs or other immunotherapies to synergistically and fully mobilize the adaptive and innate immunity against tumor cells. Ongoing prospective studies will evaluate the clinical effect of these combination regimens and their immune effect in CRC and SCCHN and in other indications.
- Journal Article