Purpose: Irregular blood flow and endothelial cell anergy, which characterize many solid tumors, hinder tumor infiltration by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). This confers resistance to cancer immunotherapy with monoclonal antibodies directed against regulatory pathways in T lymphocytes (i.e., immune checkpoint blockade, ICB). We investigated whether NGR-TNF, a TNF derivative capable of targeting the tumor vasculature, and improving intratumor infiltration by activated CTLs, could sensitize tumors to ICB with antibodies specific for the PD-1 and CTLA-4 receptors. Experimental Design: Transgenic adenocarcinoma of the mouse prostate (TRAMP) mice with autochthonous prostate cancer and C57BL/6 mice with orthotopic B16 melanoma were treated with NGR-TNF, adoptive T-cell therapy (ACT), and ICB, and monitored for immune surveillance and disease progression. Results: The combination of ACT, NGR-TNF, and ICB was the most effective in delaying disease progression, and in improving overall survival of mice bearing ICB-resistant prostate cancer or melanoma. Mechanistically, the therapeutic effects were associated with potent tumor infiltration, especially by endogenous but also by adoptively transferred PD-1þ, granzyme Bþ, and interferon-gþCTLs. The therapeutic effects were also associated with favorable T-effector/regulatory T cell ratios. Conclusions: Targeting the tumor vasculature with low-dose TNF in association with ACT may represent a novel strategy for enhancing T-cell infiltration in tumors and overcoming resistance to immune checkpoint blockers. © 2018 American Association for Cancer Research.
Elia, AR., Grioni, M., Basso, V., Curnis, F., Freschi, M., Corti, A., Mondino, A., & Bellone, M. (2018). Targeting tumor vasculature with TNF leads effector t cells to the tumor and enhances therapeutic efficacy of immune checkpoint blockers in combination with adoptive cell therapy. Clinical Cancer Research, 24(9), 2171-2181. https://doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-17-2210