Influence of Antigen Density and Immunosuppressive Factors on Tumor-Targeted Costimulation With Antibody-Fusion Proteins and Bispecific Antibody-Mediated T Cell Response
Target expression heterogeneity and the presence of an immunosuppressive microenvironment can hamper severely the efficiency of immunotherapeutic approaches. We have analyzed the potential to encounter and overcome such conditions by a combinatory two-target approach involving a bispecific antibody retargeting T cells to tumor cells and tumor-directed antibody-fusion proteins with costimulatory members of the B7 and TNF superfamily. Targeting the tumor-associated antigens EpCAM and EGFR with the bispecific antibody and costimulatory fusion proteins, respectively, we analyzed the impact of target expression and the influence of the immunosuppressive factors IDO, IL-10, TGF-β, PD-1 and CTLA-4 on the targeting-mediated stimulation of T cells. Here, suboptimal activity of the bispecific antibody at diverse EpCAM expression levels could be effectively enhanced by targeting-mediated costimulation by B7.1, 4-1BBL and OX40L in a broad range of EGFR expression levels. Furthermore, the benefit of combined costimulation by B7.1/4-1BBL and 4-1BBL/OX40L was demonstrated. In addition, the expression of immunosuppressive factors was shown in all co-culture settings, where blocking of prominent factors led to synergistic effects with combined costimulation. Thus, targeting-mediated costimulation showed general promise for a broad application covering diverse target expression levels, with the option for further selective enhancement by the identification and blockade of main immunosuppressive factors of the particular tumor environment.