Efforts to improve the clinical outcome for patients with localized high-risk prostate cancer have led to the development of neoadjuvant systemic therapies. We review the different modalities of neoadjuvant therapies for localized prostate cancer and highlight emerging treatment approaches including immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
We performed a PubMed search of clinical trials evaluating preoperative systemic therapies for treating high-risk prostate cancer published after 2000, and those studies with the highest clinical relevance to current treatment approaches were selected for review. The database at clinicaltrials.gov was queried for neoadjuvant studies in high-risk prostate cancer, and those evaluating novel targeted therapies and immunotherapies are spotlighted here.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy has become standard of care for treating some malignancies, including breast and bladder cancers. In prostate cancer, preoperative hormonal therapy or chemotherapy has failed to demonstrate improvements in overall survival. Nevertheless, the emergence of novel treatment modalities such as targeted small molecules and immunotherapy has spawned neoadjuvant clinical trials that provide a unique vantage from which to study mechanism of action and biological potency. Tissue-based biomarkers are being developed to elucidate the biological efficacy of these treatments. With targeted therapy, these can include phospho-proteomic signatures of target pathway activation and deactivation. With immunotherapies, including sipuleucel-T and ipilimumab, recruitment of immune cells to the tumor microenvironment can also be used as robust markers of a biological effect. Such studies can provide insight not only into mechanism of action for these therapies but can also provide paths forward to improving clinical efficacy like with rationally designed combinations and dose selection.
The use of neoadjuvant androgen-deprivation therapy and chemotherapy either singly or in combination before radical prostatectomy is generally safe and feasible while reducing prostate volume and tumor burden. However, pathologic complete response rates are low and no long-term survival benefit has been observed with the addition of neoadjuvant therapies over surgery alone at present, and therefore preoperative therapy is not the current standard of care in prostate cancer treatment.
Prostate cancer; Neoadjuvant; Preoperative; Targeted therapy; Immunotherapy
The applicability of islet transplantation as treatment for type 1
diabetes is limited by long-term graft dysfunction, immunosuppressive drug
toxicity, need for multiple donors, and increased risk of allosensitization.
We describe two immunosuppressive regimens based on the costimulation
blocker belatacept (BELA) or the antileukocyte functional antigen-1 antibody
efalizumab (EFA), which permit long-term islet allograft survival and
address some of these concerns.
Ten patients with type 1 diabetes with hypoglycemic unawareness
received intraportal allogeneic islet transplants. Immunosuppression
consisted of antithymocyte globulin induction and maintenance with sirolimus
or myco-phenolate and BELA (n=5) or EFA (n=5).
All five BELA-treated patients achieved independence after single
transplants; one resumed partial insulin use 305 days after transplant but
is now independent after a second transplant. All five patients treated with
EFA achieved independence after one (3/5) or two (2/5) islet transplants and
remained independent while on EFA (392–804 days). After EFA was
discontinued because of withdrawal of the drug from the market, two patients
resumed intermittent insulin use; the others remain independent. No patient
in either group developed significant side effects related to the study
drugs, and none have been sensitized to alloantigens. All have stable renal
These two novel immunosuppressive regimens are effective, well
tolerated, and the first calcineurin inhibitor/steroid-sparing islet
protocols resulting in long-term insulin independence. Although EFA is no
longer available for clinical use, these early results demonstrate that a
regimen using BELA may be an effective alternative to improve graft function
and longevity while minimizing renal and β-cell
Islet transplantation; Belatacept; Efalizumab; Type 1 diabetes
Modulation of central tolerance through RANKL alters thymic output and enhances anti-tumor immunity.
Thymic central tolerance is a critical process that prevents autoimmunity but also presents a challenge to the generation of anti-tumor immune responses. Medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) eliminate self-reactive T cells by displaying a diverse repertoire of tissue-specific antigens (TSAs) that are also shared by tumors. Therefore, while protecting against autoimmunity, mTECs simultaneously limit the generation of tumor-specific effector T cells by expressing tumor self-antigens. This ectopic expression of TSAs largely depends on autoimmune regulator (Aire), which is expressed in mature mTECs. Thus, therapies to deplete Aire-expressing mTECs represent an attractive strategy to increase the pool of tumor-specific effector T cells. Recent work has implicated the TNF family members RANK and RANK-Ligand (RANKL) in the development of Aire-expressing mTECs. We show that in vivo RANKL blockade selectively and transiently depletes Aire and TSA expression in the thymus to create a window of defective negative selection. Furthermore, we demonstrate that RANKL blockade can rescue melanoma-specific T cells from thymic deletion and that persistence of these tumor-specific effector T cells promoted increased host survival in response to tumor challenge. These results indicate that modulating central tolerance through RANKL can alter thymic output and potentially provide therapeutic benefit by enhancing anti-tumor immunity.
Sipuleucel-T is a US Food and Drug Administration–approved immunotherapy for asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). Its mechanism of action is not fully understood. This prospective trial evaluated the direct immune effects of systemically administered sipuleucel-T on prostatic cancer tissue in the preoperative setting.
Patients with untreated localized prostate cancer were treated on an open-label Phase II study of sipuleucel-T prior to planned radical prostatectomy (RP). Immune infiltrates in RP specimens (posttreatment) and in paired pretreatment biopsies were evaluated by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Correlations between circulating immune response and IHC were assessed using Spearman rank order.
Of the 42 enrolled patients, 37 were evaluable. Adverse events were primarily transient, mild-to-moderate and infusion related. Patients developed T cell proliferation and interferon-γ responses detectable in the blood following treatment. Furthermore, a greater-than-three-fold increase in infiltrating CD3+, CD4+ FOXP3-, and CD8+ T cells was observed in the RP tissues compared with the pretreatment biopsy (binomial proportions: all P < .001). This level of T cell infiltration was observed at the tumor interface, and was not seen in a control group consisting of 12 concurrent patients who did not receive any neoadjuvant treatment prior to RP. The majority of infiltrating T cells were PD-1+ and Ki-67+, consistent with activated T cells. Importantly, the magnitude of the circulating immune response did not directly correlate with T cell infiltration within the prostate based upon Spearman’s rank order correlation.
This study is the first to demonstrate a local immune effect from the administration of sipuleucel-T. Neoadjuvant sipuleucel-T elicits both a systemic antigen-specific T cell response and the recruitment of activated effector T cells into the prostate tumor microenvironment.
Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4) is a surface receptor on activated T cells that delivers an inhibitory signal, serving as an immune checkpoint. Treatment with anti-CTLA-4 antibodies can induce clinical responses to different malignancies, but the nature of the induced antigen-specific recognition is largely unknown. Using microarrays spotted with over 8000 human proteins, we assessed the diversity of antibody responses modulated by treatment with CTLA-4-blockade and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). We find that advanced prostate cancer patients who clinically respond to treatment also develop enhanced antibody responses to a higher number of antigens than non-responders. These induced antibody responses targeted antigens to which preexisting antibodies are more likely to be present in the clinical responders compared to non-responders. The majority of antibody responses are patient-specific, but immune responses against antigens shared among clinical responders are also detected. One of these shared antigens is p21-activated kinase 6 (Pak6), which is expressed in prostate cancer and to which CD4+ T cell responses were also induced. Moreover, immunization with Pak6 can be both immunogenic and protective in mouse tumor models. These results demonstrate that immune checkpoint blockade modulates antigen-specific responses to both individualized and shared antigens, some of which can mediate anti-tumor responses.
Although cancer cells can be immunogenic, tumour progression is associated with the evasion of immunosurveillance, the promotion of tumour tolerance and even the production of pro-tumorigenic factors by immune cells. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA4) represents a crucial immune checkpoint, the blockade of which can potentiate anti-tumour immunity. CTLA4-blocking antibodies are now an established therapeutic approach for malignant melanoma, and clinical trials with CTLA4-specific antibodies in prostate cancer have also shown clinical activity. This treatment may provide insights into the targets that the immune system recognizes to drive tumour regression, and could potentially improve both outcome and toxicity for patients with prostate cancer.
The role of the receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL)/RANK system is well characterized within bone, where RANKL/RANK signaling mediates osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption. However, this system has also been shown to influence biologic processes beyond the skeletal system, including in the immune system and in cancer. RANKL/RANK signaling is important in lymph-node development, lymphocyte differentiation, dendritic cell survival, T-cell activation, and tolerance induction. The RANKL/RANK axis may also have direct, osteoclast-independent effects on tumor cells. Indeed, activity of the RANKL/RANK pathway in cancer cells has been correlated with tumor progression and advanced disease. Denosumab, a fully human monoclonal antibody against RANKL, inhibits osteoclastogenesis and is widely used not just for the treatment of osteoporosis, but for the prevention of skeletal-related events from bone metastases in solid malignancies such as breast and prostate cancer. The potential effects of denosumab on the immune system have been largely ignored. Nevertheless, with the emergence of immunotherapies for cancer, denosumab may impact the effectiveness of these therapies, especially if they are given in combination. In this article, we review the role of RANKL/RANK in bone, immunity, and cancer. Examining the potential effects of routine treatment with denosumab beyond the bone represents an important area of investigation.
receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B; RANK ligand; dendritic cells; T-cell activation; immune tolerance; denosumab; prostate cancer; cancer immunology
Although prostate cancer was not historically considered to be a particularly immune-responsive cancer, recent clinical trials have demonstrated that immunotherapy for prostate cancer can lead to improvements in overall survival (OS). These studies include randomized controlled trials with sipuleucel-T and another with PROSTVAC-VF, both of which rely on stimulating the immune system to target prostate proteins. This review discusses the most promising developments over the past year in immune-based therapy for prostate cancer and the opportunities that lie ahead. Recent randomized immunotherapy trials in prostate cancer have demonstrated improvements in OS but without the concomitant improvements in progression-free survival. This uncoupling of survival from clinical response poses challenges to clinical management, because conventional measures of objective response cannot be used to identify patients benefiting from treatment. There is a significant need to identify immunologic or clinical surrogates for survival so that clinical benefit can be assessed in a timely manner. Immunotherapy is now an established treatment approach for prostate cancer, with multiple clinical trials demonstrating improvements in OS. Significant challenges to this modality remain, including determining best clinical setting for immunotherapy, identifying patients who benefit, and defining relevant clinical and immunologic end points. Nevertheless, the broader availability of novel immunotherapies will provide opportunities not only to target different components of the immune system but also to combine immunotherapies with other treatments for improved clinical efficacy.
Recent prostate specific antigen (PSA) based screening trials indicate an urgent need for novel and non-invasive biomarker identification strategies to improve the prediction of prostate cancer behavior. Non-coding microRNAs (miRNAs) in the serum and plasma have been shown to have potential as non-invasive markers for physiological and pathological conditions. To identify serum miRNAs that diagnose and correlate with prognosis of prostate cancer, we developed a multiplex quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) method involving purification of multiplex PCR products followed by uniplex analysis on a microfluidics chip to evaluate 384 human miRNAs. Using Dgcr8 and Dicer knockout (small RNA - deficient) mouse ES cells (mESC) as the benchmark, we confirmed the validity of our technique, while uncovering a significant lack of accuracy in previously published methods. Profiling 48 sera from healthy men and untreated prostate cancer patients with differing CAPRA (Cancer of the Prostate Risk Assessment) scores, we identified miRNA signatures that allow to diagnose cancer patients and correlate with prognosis. These serum signatures include oncogenic and tumor suppressive miRNAs suggesting functional roles in prostate cancer progression.
microRNA; multiplex qRT-PCR; serum; prostate; cancer
The applicability of islet transplantation as treatment for type 1 diabetes is limited by renal and islet toxicities of currently available immunosuppressants. We describe a novel immunosuppressive regimen using the anti-leukocyte functional antigen-1 antibody efalizumab which permits long-term islet allograft survival while reducing the need for corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors (CNI).
Eight patients with type 1 diabetes and hypoglycemic unawareness received intraportal allogeneic islet transplants. Immunosuppression consisted of anti-thymocyte globulin induction followed by maintenance with efalizumab and sirolimus or mycophenolate. When efalizumab was withdrawn from the market in mid-2009, all patients were transitioned to regimens consisting of mycophenolate and sirolimus or mycophenolate and tacrolimus.
All patients achieved insulin independence and 4/8 patients became independent after single islet transplants. Insulin independent patients had no further hypoglycemic events, hemoglobin A1c levels decreased, and renal function remained stable. Efalizumab was well tolerated and no serious adverse events were encountered.
Although long-term follow-up is limited by discontinuation of efalizumab and transition to conventional imunnosuppression (including CNI in 4 cases), these results demonstrate that insulin independence after islet transplantation can be achieved with a CNI and steroid-free regimen. Such an approach may minimize renal and islet toxicity and thus further improve long-term islet allograft survival.
Prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) has been investigated as the target of several antigen-specific anti-prostate tumor vaccines. The goal of antigen-specific active immunotherapies targeting PAP would ideally be to elicit PAP-specific CD8+ effector T cells. The identification of PAP-specific CD8+ T cell epitopes should provide a means of monitoring the immunological efficacy of vaccines targeting PAP, and these epitopes might themselves be developed as vaccine antigens. In the current report, we hypothesized that PAP-specific epitopes might be identified by direct identification of pre-existing CD8+ T-cells specific for HLA-A2-restricted peptides derived from PAP in the blood of HLA-A2-expressing individuals. 11 nonamer peptides derived from the amino acid sequence of PAP were used as stimulator antigens in functional ELISPOT assays with peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 20 HLA-A2+ patients with prostate cancer or 10 healthy blood donors. Peptide-specific T cells were frequently identified in both groups for three of the peptides, p18–26, p112–120, and p135–143. CD8+ T-cell clones specific for three peptides, p18–26, p112–120, and p299–307, confirmed that these are HLA-A2-restricted T-cell epitopes. Moreover, HLA-A2 transgenic mice immunized with a DNA vaccine encoding PAP developed epitope-specific responses for one or more of these three peptide epitopes. We propose that this method to first identify epitopes for which there are pre-existing epitope-specific T cells could be used to prioritize MHC class I-specific epitopes for other antigens. In addition, we propose that the epitopes identified here could be used to monitor immune responses in HLA-A2+ patients receiving vaccines targeting PAP to identify potentially therapeutic immune responses.
CTL; prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP); HLA-A2; ELISPOT; epitope
During the course of a microbial infection, different antigen presenting cells (APCs) are exposed and contribute to the ensuing immune response. CD8α+ dendritic cells (DCs) are an important coordinator of early immune responses to the intracellular bacteria Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) and are crucial for CD8+ T cell immunity. In this study, we examine the contribution of different primary APCs to inducing immune responses against Lm. We find that CD8α+ DCs are the most susceptible to infection while plasmacytoid DCs are not infected. Moreover, CD8α+ DCs are the only DC subset capable of priming an immune response to Lm in vitro and are also the only APC studied that do so when transferred into β2 microglobulin deficient mice which lack endogenous cross-presentation. Upon infection, CD11b+ DCs primarily secrete low levels of TNFα while CD8α+ DCs secrete IL-12 p70. Infected monocytes secrete high levels of TNFα and IL-12p70, cytokines associated with activated inflammatory macrophages. Furthermore, co-culture of infected CD8α+ DCs and CD11b+ DCs with monocytes enhances production of IL-12 p70 and TNFα. However, the presence of monocytes in DC/T cell co-cultures attenuates T cell priming against Lm-derived antigens in vitro and in vivo. This suppressive activity of spleen-derived monocytes is mediated in part by both TNFα and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Thus these monocytes enhance IL-12 production to Lm infection, but concurrently abrogate DC-mediated T cell priming.
Sjögren’s Syndrome is a human autoimmune disease characterized by immune-mediated destruction of the lacrimal and salivary glands. Here, we show that the Aire-deficient mouse represents a new tool to investigate autoimmune dacryoadenitis and keratoconjunctivitis sicca, features of Sjögren’s Syndrome. Previous work in the Aire-deficient mouse suggested a role for alpha-fodrin, a ubiquitous antigen, in the disease process. Using an unbiased biochemical approach, however, we have identified a novel lacrimal gland autoantigen, odorant binding protein 1a, targeted by the autoimmune response. This novel autoantigen is expressed in the thymus in an Aire-dependent manner. The results from our study suggest that defects in central tolerance may contribute to Sjögren’s Syndrome and provide a new and clinically relevant model to investigate the pathogenic mechanisms in lacrimal gland autoimmunity and associated ocular surface sequelae.
T cells; Autoimmunity; Autoantibodies; Tolerance; Thymus
Abiraterone acetate is a prodrug of abiraterone, a selective inhibitor of CYP17, the enzyme catalyst for two essential steps in androgen biosynthesis. In castration-resistant prostate cancers (CRPCs), extragonadal androgen sources may sustain tumor growth despite a castrate environment. This phase I dose-escalation study of abiraterone acetate evaluated safety, pharmacokinetics, and effects on steroidogenesis and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in men with CPRC with or without prior ketoconazole therapy.
Patients and Methods
Thirty-three men with chemotherapy-naïve progressive CRPC were enrolled. Nineteen patients (58%) had previously received ketoconazole for CRPC. Bone metastases were present in 70% of patients, and visceral involvement was present in 18%. Three patients (9%) had locally advanced disease without distant metastases. Fasted or fed cohorts received abiraterone acetate doses of 250, 500, 750, or 1,000 mg daily. Single-dose pharmacokinetic analyses were performed before continuous daily dosing.
Adverse events were predominantly grade 1 or 2. No dose-limiting toxicities were observed. Hypertension (grade 3, 12%) and hypokalemia (grade 3, 6%; grade 4, 3%) were the most frequent serious toxicities and responded to medical management. Confirmed ≥ 50% PSA declines at week 12 were seen in 18 (55%) of 33 patients, including nine (47%) of 19 patients with prior ketoconazole therapy and nine (64%) of 14 patients without prior ketoconazole therapy. Substantial declines in circulating androgens and increases in mineralocorticoids were seen with all doses.
Abiraterone acetate was well tolerated and demonstrated activity in CRPC, including in patients previously treated with ketoconazole. Continued clinical study is warranted.
Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a common manifestation of systemic autoimmunity characterized by progressive inflammation or scarring of the lungs. Patients who develop these complications can exhibit significantly impaired gas exchange that may result in hypoxemia, pulmonary hypertension and even death. Unfortunately, little is understood about how these diseases arise, including the role of specific defects in immune tolerance. Another key question is whether autoimmune responses targeting the lung parenchyma are critical to ILD pathogenesis, including that of isolated, idiopathic forms. We show that a specific defect in central tolerance brought about by mutations in the autoimmune regulator gene (Aire) leads to an autoreactive T cell response to a lung antigen named vomeromodulin and the development of ILD. We found that a human patient and mice with defects in Aire develop lung pathology that is strikingly similar, demonstrating that the AIRE-deficient model of autoimmunity is a suitable translational system in which to unravel fundamental mechanisms of ILD pathogenesis.
Chronic prostatitis is a common disease of unclear etiology and has no specific treatment. Mice deficient in the expression of the autoimmune regulator (Aire) gene, which are defective in thymic expression of self antigens and central tolerance, develop spontaneous prostatitis. In this study, we found that Aire-deficient mice developed spontaneous B and T cell immune responses to a prostate autoantigen, seminal vesicle secretory protein 2 (SVS2), which we believe to be novel. We show that thymic expression of this self antigen was Aire dependent. Moreover, prostatitis was induced in WT mice through immunization with SVS2, demonstrating that immunity to SVS2 was sufficient to induce prostatitis. The clinical relevance of this antigen was highlighted by our observation that patients with chronic prostatitis possessed specific autoantibodies against the human SVS2-like seminal vesicle protein semenogelin. These results provide direct evidence that spontaneous chronic prostatitis is an autoimmune disease and is regulated by both central and peripheral tolerance. Moreover, SVS2 and semenogelin are among the relevant autoantigens in mice and humans, respectively.
The expression of self-antigen in the thymus is believed to be responsible for the deletion of autoreactive T lymphocytes, a critical process in the maintenance of unresponsiveness to self. The Autoimmune regulator (Aire) gene, which is defective in the disorder autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type 1, has been shown to promote the thymic expression of self-antigens. A clear link, however, between specific thymic self-antigens and a single autoimmune phenotype in this model has been lacking. We show that autoimmune eye disease in aire-deficient mice develops as a result of loss of thymic expression of a single eye antigen, interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP). In addition, lack of IRBP expression solely in the thymus, even in the presence of aire expression, is sufficient to trigger spontaneous eye-specific autoimmunity. These results suggest that failure of thymic expression of selective single self-antigens can be sufficient to cause organ-specific autoimmune disease, even in otherwise self-tolerant individuals.
Immature plasmacytoid dendritic cells are the principal alpha interferon-producing cells (IPC), responsible for primary antiviral immunity. IPC express surface molecules CD4, CCR5, and CXCR4, which are known coreceptors required for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Here we show that IPC are susceptible to and replicate HIV type 1 (HIV-1). Importantly, viral replication is triggered upon activation of IPC with CD40 ligand, a signal physiologically delivered by CD4 T cells. Immunohistochemical staining of tonsil from HIV-infected individuals reveals HIV p24+ IPC, consistent with in vivo infection of these cells. IPC exposed in vitro to HIV produce alpha interferon, which partially inhibits viral replication. Nevertheless, IPC efficiently transmit HIV-1 to CD4 T-cells, and such transmission is also augmented by CD40 ligand activation. IPC produce RANTES/CCL5 and MIP-1α/CCL3 when exposed to HIV in vitro. IPC also induce naïve CD4 T cells to proliferate and would therefore preferentially infect these cells. These results indicate that IPC may play an important role in the dissemination of HIV.