PD-1 and TIGIT coexpression identifies a circulating CD8 T cell subset predictive of response to anti-PD-1 therapy
November 8, 2020
Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer
November 8, 2020
Background: Clinical benefit from programmed cell death 1 receptor (PD-1) inhibitors relies on reinvigoration of endogenous antitumor immunity. Nonetheless, robust immunological markers, based on circulating immune cell subsets associated with therapeutic efficacy are yet to be validated.
Methods: We isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cell from three independent cohorts of melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma patients treated with PD-1 inhibitor, at baseline and longitudinally after therapy. Using multiparameter flow cytometry and cell sorting, we isolated four subsets of CD8+ T cells, based on PD-1 and TIGIT expression profiles. We performed phenotypic characterization, T cell receptor sequencing, targeted transcriptomic analysis and antitumor reactivity assays to thoroughly characterize each of these subsets.
Results: We documented that the frequency of circulating PD-1+TIGIT+ (DPOS) CD8+ T-cells after 1 month of anti-PD-1 therapy was associated with clinical response and overall survival. This DPOS T-cell population was enriched in highly activated T-cells, tumor-specific and emerging T-cell clonotypes and T lymphocytes overexpressing CXCR5, a key marker of the CD8 cytotoxic follicular T cell population. Additionally, transcriptomic profiling defined a specific gene signature for this population as well as the overexpression of specific pathways associated with the therapeutic response.
Conclusions: Our results provide a convincing rationale for monitoring this PD-1+TIGIT+ circulating population as an early cellular-based marker of therapeutic response to anti-PD-1 therapy.