Malignant melanoma is an aggressive form of cancer, which can be treated with anti-CTLA-4 and anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor antibodies but while anti-CTLA-4 antibodies have clear benefits for some patients with melanoma, productive responses are difficult to predict and often associated with serious immune related adverse events. Antibodies specific to CTLA-4 bind two major isoforms of CTLA-4 in humans, the receptor isoform and a second naturally secretable, soluble isoform - sCTLA-4. The primary aim here was to examine the effect of selectively blocking the function of sCTLA-4 on in vitro immune responses from volunteer healthy or melanoma patient PBMC samples. Addition of recombinant sCTLA-4 to healthy PBMC samples demonstrated sCTLA-4 to have immunosuppressive capacity comparable to recombinant CTLA4-Ig, partially reversible upon antibody blockade. Further, we identified a mechanistic relationship where melanoma patient TGFβ2 serum levels correlated with sCTLA-4 levels and provided the basis for a novel protocol to enhance sCTLA-4 production and secretion by T cells with TGFβ2. Finally, a comparison of selective antibody blockade of sCTLA-4 demonstrated that both healthy and melanoma patient effector cytokine responses can be significantly increased. Overall, the data support the notion that sCTLA-4 is a contributory factor in cancer immune evasion.
- checkpoint inhibitor
- CTLA-4 (cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4)
- T cells