Concomitant targeting of programmed death-1 (PD-1) and CD137 improves the efficacy of radiotherapy in a mouse model of human BRAFV600-mutant melanoma

Paula Kroon, Jules Gadiot, Marlies Peeters, Alessia Gasparini, Marcel A Deken, Hideo Yagita, Marcel Verheij, Jannie Borst, Christian U Blank, Inge Verbrugge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


T cell checkpoint blockade with antibodies targeting programmed cell death (ligand)-1 (PD-1/PD-L1) and/or cytotoxic T lymphocyte-antigen 4 (CTLA-4) has improved therapy outcome in melanoma patients. However, a considerable proportion of patients does not benefit even from combined α-CTLA-4 and α-PD-1 therapy. We therefore examined to which extent T cell (co)stimulation and/or stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) could further enhance the therapeutic efficacy of T cell checkpoint blockade in a genetically engineered mouse melanoma model that is driven by PTEN-deficiency, and BRAFV600 mutation, as in human, but lacks the sporadic UV-induced mutations. Tumor-bearing mice were treated with different combinations of immunomodulatory antibodies (α-CTLA-4, α-PD-1, α-CD137) or interleukin-2 (IL-2) alone or in combination with SBRT. None of our immunotherapeutic approaches (alone or in combination) had any anti-tumor efficacy, while SBRT alone delayed melanoma outgrowth. However, α-CD137 combined with α-PD-1 antibodies significantly enhanced the anti-tumor effect of SBRT, while the anti-tumor effect of SBRT was not enhanced by interleukin-2, or the combination of α-CTLA-4 and α-PD-1. We conclude that α-CD137 and α-PD-1 antibodies were most effective in enhancing SBRT-induced tumor growth delay in this mouse melanoma model, outperforming the ability of IL-2, or the combination of α-CTLA-4 and α-PD-1 to synergize with SBRT. Given the high mutational load and increased immunogenicity of human melanoma with the same genotype, our findings encourage testing α-CD137 and α-PD-1 alone or in combination with SBRT clinically, particularly in patients refractory to α-CTLA-4 and/or α-PD-1 therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-63
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Immunology and Immunotherapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

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