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Nat Immunol DOI:10.1038/s41590-019-0312-6

Subsets of exhausted CD8 T cells differentially mediate tumor control and respond to checkpoint blockade.

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsMiller, BC, Sen, DR, Abosy, RAl, Bi, K, Virkud, YV, LaFleur, MW, Yates, KB, Lako, A, Felt, K, Naik, GS, Manos, M, Gjini, E, Kuchroo, JR, Ishizuka, JJ, Collier, JL, Griffin, GK, Maleri, S, Comstock, DE, Weiss, SA, Brown, FD, Panda, A, Zimmer, MD, Manguso, RT, F Hodi, S, Rodig, SJ, Sharpe, AH, W Haining, N
JournalNat Immunol
Date Published2019 Mar

T cell dysfunction is a hallmark of many cancers, but the basis for T cell dysfunction and the mechanisms by which antibody blockade of the inhibitory receptor PD-1 (anti-PD-1) reinvigorates T cells are not fully understood. Here we show that such therapy acts on a specific subpopulation of exhausted CD8 tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). Dysfunctional CD8 TILs possess canonical epigenetic and transcriptional features of exhaustion that mirror those seen in chronic viral infection. Exhausted CD8 TILs include a subpopulation of 'progenitor exhausted' cells that retain polyfunctionality, persist long term and differentiate into 'terminally exhausted' TILs. Consequently, progenitor exhausted CD8 TILs are better able to control tumor growth than are terminally exhausted T cells. Progenitor exhausted TILs can respond to anti-PD-1 therapy, but terminally exhausted TILs cannot. Patients with melanoma who have a higher percentage of progenitor exhausted cells experience a longer duration of response to checkpoint-blockade therapy. Thus, approaches to expand the population of progenitor exhausted CD8 T cells might be an important component of improving the response to checkpoint blockade.


Alternate JournalNat. Immunol.
PubMed ID30778252