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4.  Safety and Tumor Responses with Lambrolizumab (Anti–PD-1) in Melanoma 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(2):134-144.
The programmed death 1 (PD-1) receptor is a negative regulator of T-cell effector mechanisms that limits immune responses against cancer. We tested the anti–PD-1 antibody lambrolizumab (previously known as MK-3475) in patients with advanced melanoma.
We administered lambrolizumab intravenously at a dose of 10 mg per kilogram of body weight every 2 or 3 weeks or 2 mg per kilogram every 3 weeks in patients with advanced melanoma, both those who had received prior treatment with the immune checkpoint inhibitor ipilimumab and those who had not. Tumor responses were assessed every 12 weeks.
A total of 135 patients with advanced melanoma were treated. Common adverse events attributed to treatment were fatigue, rash, pruritus, and diarrhea; most of the adverse events were low grade. The confirmed response rate across all dose cohorts, evaluated by central radiologic review according to the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST), version 1.1, was 38% (95% confidence interval [CI], 25 to 44), with the highest confirmed response rate observed in the cohort that received 10 mg per kilogram every 2 weeks (52%; 95% CI, 38 to 66). The response rate did not differ significantly between patients who had received prior ipilimumab treatment and those who had not (confirmed response rate, 38% [95% CI, 23 to 55] and 37% [95% CI, 26 to 49], respectively). Responses were durable in the majority of patients (median follow-up, 11 months among patients who had a response); 81% of the patients who had a response (42 of 52) were still receiving treatment at the time of analysis in March 2013. The overall median progression-free survival among the 135 patients was longer than 7 months.
In patients with advanced melanoma, including those who had had disease progression while they had been receiving ipilimumab, treatment with lambrolizumab resulted in a high rate of sustained tumor regression, with mainly grade 1 or 2 toxic effects. (Funded by Merck Sharp and Dohme; number, NCT01295827.)
PMCID: PMC4126516  PMID: 23724846
5.  Molecular Characterization and Patient Outcome of Melanoma Nodal Metastases and an Unknown Primary Site 
Annals of Surgical Oncology  2014;21(13):4317-4323.
Melanoma of unknown primary site (MUP) is not a completely understood entity with nodal metastases as the most common first clinical manifestation. The aim of this multicentric study was to assess frequency and type of oncogenic BRAF/NRAS/KIT mutations in MUP with clinically detected nodal metastases in relation to clinicopathologic features and outcome.
Materials and Methods
We analyzed series of 103 MUP patients (period: 1992–2010) after therapeutic lymphadenectomy (LND): 40 axillary, 47 groin, 16 cervical, none treated with BRAF inhibitors. We performed molecular characterization of BRAF/NRAS/KIT mutational status in nodal metastases using direct sequencing of respective coding sequences. Median follow-up time was 53 months.
BRAF mutations were detected in 55 cases (53 %) (51 V600E, 93 %; 4 others, 7 %), and mutually exclusive NRAS mutations were found in 14 cases (14 %) (7 p.Q61R, 4 p.Q61K, 2 p.Q61H, 1 p.Q13R). We have not detected any mutations in KIT. The 5-year overall survival (OS) was 34 %; median was 24 months. We have not found significant correlation between mutational status (BRAF/NRAS) and OS; however, for BRAF or NRAS mutated melanomas we observed significantly shorter disease-free survival (DFS) when compared with wild-type melanoma patients (p = .04; 5-year DFS, 18 vs 19 vs 31 %, respectively). The most important factor influencing OS was number of metastatic lymph nodes >1 (p = .03).
Our large study on molecular characterization of MUP with nodal metastases showed that MUPs had molecular features similar to sporadic non-chronic-sun-damaged melanomas. BRAF/NRAS mutational status had negative impact on DFS in this group of patients. These observations might have potential implication for molecular-targeted therapy in MUPs.
PMCID: PMC4218979  PMID: 24866436
6.  Analysis of Dermatologic Events in Vemurafenib-Treated Patients With Melanoma 
The Oncologist  2013;18(3):314-322.
Vemurafenib has been approved for the treatment of patients with advanced BRAFV600E-mutant melanoma. The most commonly reported adverse events were dermatologic conditions, occurring in 92%–95% of patients. Dose interruptions and/or reductions were required in <10% of patients.
Vemurafenib has been approved for the treatment of patients with advanced BRAFV600E-mutant melanoma. This report by the Vemurafenib Dermatology Working Group presents the characteristics of dermatologic adverse events (AEs) that occur in vemurafenib-treated patients, including cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cuSCC).
Dermatologic AEs were assessed from three ongoing trials of BRAFV600E mutation-positive advanced melanoma. Histologic central review and genetic characterization were completed for a subset of cuSCC lesions.
A total of 520 patients received vemurafenib. The most commonly reported AEs were dermatologic AEs, occurring in 92%–95% of patients. Rash was the most common AE (64%–75% of patients), and the most common types were rash not otherwise specified, erythema, maculopapular rash, and folliculitis. Rash development did not appear to correlate with tumor response. Photosensitivity occurred in 35%–63% of patients, and palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia (PPE) occurred in 8%–10% of patients. The severity of rash, photosensitivity, and PPE were mainly grade 1 or 2. In all, 19%–26% of patients developed cuSCC, mostly keratoacanthomas (KAs). The majority of patients with cuSCC continued therapy without dose reduction after resection. Genetic analysis of 29 cuSCC/KA samples demonstrated HRAS mutations in 41%.
Dermatologic AEs associated with vemurafenib treatment in patients with melanoma were generally manageable with supportive care measures. Dose interruptions and/or reductions were required in <10% of patients.
PMCID: PMC3607529  PMID: 23457002
Vemurafenib; Dermatologic; cuSCC; Keratoacanthoma
7.  Harnessing the immune system to provide long-term survival in patients with melanoma and other solid tumors 
Oncoimmunology  2014;3:e27560.
Accumulating data from patients treated with checkpoint inhibitors and other immunomodulatory agents indicate that harnessing the power of the immune system is integral to achieve improve long-term cancer containment rates and prolong patient survival. Due to their mechanism of action, immunotherapeutic approaches have the potential to be effective against almost every tumor type. Durable responses to immunotherapy and prolonged patient survival have indeed been documented in individuals with melanoma, as well as kidney and lung cancer. These advances call for the re-evaluation of how clinical benefit is measured in an era in which long-term tumor control and survival are achievable treatment goals.
PMCID: PMC3973659  PMID: 24719793
checkpoint inhibitors; immunotherapy; melanoma; solid tumors; survival; ulceration
8.  Vandetanib in Advanced Medullary Thyroid Cancer: Review of Adverse Event Management Strategies 
Advances in Therapy  2013;30(11):945-966.
Vandetanib has recently demonstrated clinically meaningful benefits in patients with unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). Given the potential for long-term vandetanib therapy in this setting, in addition to treatment for disease-related symptoms, effective management of related adverse events (AEs) is vital to ensure patient compliance and maximize clinical benefit with vandetanib therapy.
This expert meeting-based review aims to summarize published data on AEs associated with vandetanib therapy and to provide clinicians with specific practical guidance on education, monitoring, and management of toxicities induced in patients treated with vandetanib in advanced and metastatic MTC. The content of this review is based on the expert discussions from a multidisciplinary meeting held in October 2012.
Characteristics, frequency, and risk data are outlined for a number of dermatological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and general AEs related to vandetanib treatment. Preventive strategies, practical treatment suggestions, and points for clinical consideration are provided.
Good patient and team communication is necessary for the prevention, early detection, and management of AEs of vandetanib. Physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers play a critical role in providing AE management and patient support to optimize outcomes with vandetanib in MTC.
PMCID: PMC3898148  PMID: 24249433
Adverse effects; Antineoplastic agents/adverse effects; Cardiovascular; Dermatology; Medullary thyroid cancer; Medullary thyroid carcinoma; Patient safety; Piperidines/therapeutic use; Protein kinase inhibitors; Thyroid neoplasms/drug therapy; Vandetanib
10.  Phase I clinical trial combining imatinib mesylate and IL-2 in refractory cancer patients 
Oncoimmunology  2013;2(2):e23079.
Imatinib mesylate (IM) is a small molecule inhibitor of protein tyrosine kinases. In addition to its direct effect on malignant cells, it has been suggested IM may activate of natural killer (NK) cells, hence exerting immunomodulatory functions. In preclinical settings, improved antitumor responses have been observed when IM and interleukin-2 (IL-2), a cytokine that enhances NK cells functions, were combined. The goals of this study were to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of IL-2 combined with IM at a constant dose of 400 mg, the pharmacokinetics of IM and IL-2, as well as toxicity and clinical efficacy of this immunotherapeutic regimen in patients affected by advanced tumors. The treatment consisted in 50 mg/day cyclophosphamide from 21 d before the initiation of IM throughout the first IM cycle (from D-21 to D14), 400 mg/day IM for 14 d (D1 to D14) combined with escalating doses of IL-2 (3, 6, 9 and 12 MIU/day) from days 10 to 14. This treatment was administered at three week intervals to 17 patients. Common side effects of the combination were mild to moderate, including fever, chills, fatigue, nausea and hepatic enzyme elevation. IL-2 dose level II, 6 MIU/day, was determined as the MTD with the following dose-limiting toxicities: systemic capillary leak syndrome, fatigue and anorexia. Pharmacokinetic studies revealed that the area under the curve and the maximum concentration of IM and its main metabolite CGP74588 increased significantly when IM was concomitantly administered with IL-2. In contrast, IM did not modulate IL-2 pharmacokinetics. No objective responses were observed. The best response obtained was stable disease in 8/17 (median duration: 12 weeks). Finally, IL-2 augmented the impregnation of IM and its metabolite. The combination of IM (400 mg/day) and IL-2 (6 MIU/day) in tumors that express IM targets warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3601177  PMID: 23525192
cancer; imatinib mesylate; interleukin-2; maximum tolerate dose; pharmacokinetics
11.  Phase I clinical trial combining imatinib mesylate and IL-2 
Oncoimmunology  2013;2(2):e23080.
We performed a Phase I clinical trial from October 2007 to October 2009, enrolling patients affected by refractory solid tumors, to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of interleukin (IL)-2 combined with low dose cyclophosphamide (CTX) and imatinib mesylate (IM). In a companion paper published in this issue of OncoImmunology, we show that the MTD of IL-2 is 6 MIU/day for 5 consecutive days, and that IL-2 increases the impregnation of both IM and of its main metabolite, CGP74588. Among the secondary objectives, we wanted to determine immunological markers that might be associated with progression-free survival (PFS) and/or overall survival (OS). The combination therapy markedly reduced the absolute counts of B, CD4+ T and CD8+ T cells in a manner that was proportional to IL-2 dose. There was a slight (less than 2-fold) increase in the proportion of regulatory T cells (Tregs) among CD4+ T cells in response to IM plus IL-2. The natural killer (NK)-cell compartment was activated, exhibiting a significant upregulation of HLA-DR, tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and CD56. The abundance of HLA-DR+ NK cells after one course of combination therapy positively correlated with both PFS and OS. The IL-2-induced rise of the CD4+:CD8+ T-cell ratio calculated after the first cycle of treatment was also positively associated with OS. Overall, the combination of IM and IL-2 promoted the rapid expansion of HLA-DR+ NK cells and increased the CD4+:CD8+ T-cell ratio, both being associated with clinical benefits. This combinatorial regimen warrants further investigation in Phase II clinical trials, possibly in patients affected by gastrointestinal stromal tumors, a setting in which T and NK cells may play an important therapeutic role.
PMCID: PMC3601178  PMID: 23525357
NK cells; cancer; imatinib mesylate; innate immunity; interleukin-2; melanoma; regulatory T cells
12.  RAS Mutations Are Associated With the Development of Cutaneous Squamous Cell Tumors in Patients Treated With RAF Inhibitors 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;30(3):316-321.
RAF inhibitors are effective against melanomas with BRAF V600E mutations but may induce keratoacanthomas (KAs) and cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (cSCCs). The potential of these agents to promote secondary malignancies is concerning. We analyzed cSCC and KA lesions for genetic mutations in an attempt to identify an underlying mechanism for their formation.
Four international centers contributed 237 KA or cSCC tumor samples from patients receiving an RAF inhibitor (either vemurafenib or sorafenib; n = 19) or immunosuppression therapy (n = 53) or tumors that developed spontaneously (n = 165). Each sample was profiled for 396 known somatic mutations across 33 cancer-related genes by using a mass spectrometric–based genotyping platform.
Mutations were detected in 16% of tumors (38 of 237), with five tumors harboring two mutations. Mutations in TP53, CDKN2A, HRAS, KRAS, and PIK3CA were previously described in squamous cell tumors. Mutations in MYC, FGFR3, and VHL were identified for the first time. A higher frequency of activating RAS mutations was found in tumors from patients treated with an RAF inhibitor versus populations treated with a non–RAF inhibitor (21.1% v 3.2%; P < .01), although overall mutation rates between treatment groups were similar (RAF inhibitor, 21.1%; immunosuppression, 18.9%; and spontaneous, 17.6%; P = not significant). Tumor histology (KA v cSCC), tumor site (head and neck v other), patient age (≤ 70 v > 70 years), and sex had no significant impact on mutation rate or type.
Squamous cell tumors from patients treated with an RAF inhibitor have a distinct mutational profile that supports a mechanism of therapy-induced tumorigenesis in RAS-primed cells. Conceivably, cotargeting of MEK together with RAF may reduce or prevent formation of these tumors.
PMCID: PMC3269955  PMID: 22067401
13.  Improved Survival with Vemurafenib in Melanoma with BRAF V600E Mutation 
The New England journal of medicine  2011;364(26):2507-2516.
Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials of the BRAF kinase inhibitor vemurafenib (PLX4032) have shown response rates of more than 50% in patients with metastatic melanoma with the BRAF V600E mutation.
We conducted a phase 3 randomized clinical trial comparing vemurafenib with dacarbazine in 675 patients with previously untreated, metastatic melanoma with the BRAF V600E mutation. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either vemurafenib (960 mg orally twice daily) or dacarbazine (1000 mg per square meter of body-surface area intravenously every 3 weeks). Coprimary end points were rates of overall and progression-free survival. Secondary end points included the response rate, response duration, and safety. A final analysis was planned after 196 deaths and an interim analysis after 98 deaths.
At 6 months, overall survival was 84% (95% confidence interval [CI], 78 to 89) in the vemurafenib group and 64% (95% CI, 56 to 73) in the dacarbazine group. In the interim analysis for overall survival and final analysis for progression-free survival, vemurafenib was associated with a relative reduction of 63% in the risk of death and of 74% in the risk of either death or disease progression, as compared with dacarbazine (P<0.001 for both comparisons). After review of the interim analysis by an independent data and safety monitoring board, crossover from dacarbazine to vemurafenib was recommended. Response rates were 48% for vemurafenib and 5% for dacarbazine. Common adverse events associated with vemurafenib were arthralgia, rash, fatigue, alopecia, keratoacanthoma or squamous-cell carcinoma, photosensitivity, nausea, and diarrhea; 38% of patients required dose modification because of toxic effects.
Vemurafenib produced improved rates of overall and progression-free survival in patients with previously untreated melanoma with the BRAF V600E mutation. (Funded by Hoffmann–La Roche; BRIM-3 number, NCT01006980.)
PMCID: PMC3549296  PMID: 21639808
14.  Improved Survival with Ipilimumab in Patients with Metastatic Melanoma 
The New England journal of medicine  2010;363(8):711-723.
An improvement in overall survival among patients with metastatic melanoma has been an elusive goal. In this phase 3 study, ipilimumab — which blocks cytotoxic T-lymphocyte–associated antigen 4 to potentiate an antitumor T-cell response — administered with or without a glycoprotein 100 (gp100) peptide vaccine was compared with gp100 alone in patients with previously treated metastatic melanoma.
A total of 676 HLA-A⋆0201–positive patients with unresectable stage III or IV melanoma, whose disease had progressed while they were receiving therapy for metastatic disease, were randomly assigned, in a 3:1:1 ratio, to receive ipilimumab plus gp100 (403 patients), ipilimumab alone (137), or gp100 alone (136). Ipilimumab, at a dose of 3 mg per kilogram of body weight, was administered with or without gp100 every 3 weeks for up to four treatments (induction). Eligible patients could receive reinduction therapy. The primary end point was overall survival.
The median overall survival was 10.0 months among patients receiving ipilimumab plus gp100, as compared with 6.4 months among patients receiving gp100 alone (hazard ratio for death, 0.68; P<0.001). The median overall survival with ipilimumab alone was 10.1 months (hazard ratio for death in the comparison with gp100 alone, 0.66; P = 0.003). No difference in overall survival was detected between the ipilimumab groups (hazard ratio with ipilimumab plus gp100, 1.04; P = 0.76). Grade 3 or 4 immune-related adverse events occurred in 10 to 15% of patients treated with ipilimumab and in 3% treated with gp100 alone. There were 14 deaths related to the study drugs (2.1%), and 7 were associated with immune-related adverse events.
Ipilimumab, with or without a gp100 peptide vaccine, as compared with gp100 alone, improved overall survival in patients with previously treated metastatic melanoma. Adverse events can be severe, long-lasting, or both, but most are reversible with appropriate treatment. (Funded by Medarex and Bristol-Myers Squibb; number, NCT00094653.)
PMCID: PMC3549297  PMID: 20525992
15.  Phase II, Open-Label, Randomized Trial of the MEK1/2 Inhibitor Selumetinib as Monotherapy versus Temozolomide in Patients with Advanced Melanoma 
To compare the efficacy and tolerability of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP)/extracellular signal-regulated (ERK) kinase (MEK) 1/2 inhibitor selumetinib versus temozolomide in chemotherapy-naive patients with unresectable stage III/IV melanoma.
Experimental Design
This phase II, open-label, multicenter, randomized, parallel-group study examined the effect of 100 mg oral selumetinib twice daily in 28-day cycles versus oral temozolomide (200 mg/m2/d for 5 days, then 23 days off-treatment). The primary endpoint was progression-free survival.
Two hundred patients were randomized. Progression-free survival did not differ significantly between selumetinib and temozolomide (median time to event 78 and 80 days, respectively; hazard ratio, 1.07; 80% confidence interval, 0.86–1.32). Objective response was observed in six (5.8%) patients receiving selumetinib and nine (9.4%) patients in the temozolomide group. Among patients with BRAF mutations, objective responses were similar between selumetinib and temozolomide groups (11.1% and 10.7%, respectively). However, five of the six selumetinib partial responders were BRAF mutated. Frequently reported adverse events with selumetinib were dermatitis acneiform (papular pustular rash; 59.6%), diarrhea (56.6%), nausea (50.5%), and peripheral edema (40.4%), whereas nausea (64.2%), constipation (47.4%), and vomiting (44.2%) were reported with temozolomide.
No significant difference in progression-free survival was observed between patients with unresectable stage III/IV melanoma unselected for BRAF/NRAS mutations, who received therapy with selumetinib or temozolomide. Five of six patients with partial response to selumetinib had BRAF mutant tumors.
PMCID: PMC3549298  PMID: 22048237
16.  The Price of Tumor Control: An Analysis of Rare Side Effects of Anti-CTLA-4 Therapy in Metastatic Melanoma from the Ipilimumab Network 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53745.
Ipilimumab, a cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4) blocking antibody, has been approved for the treatment of metastatic melanoma and induces adverse events (AE) in up to 64% of patients. Treatment algorithms for the management of common ipilimumab-induced AEs have lead to a reduction of morbidity, e.g. due to bowel perforations. However, the spectrum of less common AEs is expanding as ipilimumab is increasingly applied. Stringent recognition and management of AEs will reduce drug-induced morbidity and costs, and thus, positively impact the cost-benefit ratio of the drug. To facilitate timely identification and adequate management data on rare AEs were analyzed at 19 skin cancer centers.
Methods and Findings
Patient files (n = 752) were screened for rare ipilimumab-associated AEs. A total of 120 AEs, some of which were life-threatening or even fatal, were reported and summarized by organ system describing the most instructive cases in detail. Previously unreported AEs like drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS), granulomatous inflammation of the central nervous system, and aseptic meningitis, were documented. Obstacles included patientś delay in reporting symptoms and the differentiation of steroid-induced from ipilimumab-induced AEs under steroid treatment. Importantly, response rate was high in this patient population with tumor regression in 30.9% and a tumor control rate of 61.8% in stage IV melanoma patients despite the fact that some patients received only two of four recommended ipilimumab infusions. This suggests that ipilimumab-induced antitumor responses can have an early onset and that severe autoimmune reactions may reflect overtreatment.
The wide spectrum of ipilimumab-induced AEs demands doctor and patient awareness to reduce morbidity and treatment costs and true ipilimumab success is dictated by both objective tumor responses and controlling severe side effects.
PMCID: PMC3544906  PMID: 23341990
17.  Imaging of melanoma: usefulness of ultrasonography before and after contrast injection for diagnosis and early evaluation of treatment 
High-frequency ultrasound (8–14 MHz) is routinely used to display cutaneous melanomas. Maximum thickness measurement (Breslow index) has been shown to be well correlated to histologic findings for lesions of more than 0.75 mm. Some morphological criteria (strong delineation, hypoechoic texture, homogeneity) have been reported to help differentiate between malignant and benign pigmented blue lesions, but remain insufficient. Vascular ultrasound analysis using Doppler mode provides additional information and showed good specificity for malignancy (90%–100%), but variable sensitivity (34%–100%). Recent advances in ultrasound imaging allow functional evaluation. Likewise, dynamic contrast-enhanced ultrasound using contrast medium injection and specific perfusion and quantification software showed promising results in clinical and preclinical trials for early prediction of tumor response to target treatments.
PMCID: PMC3108283  PMID: 21673868
melanoma; ultrasound; dynamic contrast-enhanced ultrasound
18.  Pharmacokinetic results of a phase I trial of sorafenib in combination with dacarbazine in patients with advanced solid tumors 
Sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor of Raf and several growth factor receptors, is under investigation in combination with dacarbazine, a commonly used chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of many cancers. The current phase I study investigates the effects of sorafenib on the pharmacokinetic (PK) profile of dacarbazine and its metabolite 5-amino-imidazole-4-carboxamide (AIC). (AIC is formed in amounts equimolar to the active alkylating moiety, methane diazohydroxide, which is undetectable by known validated assays.)
Patients with advanced solid tumors received intravenous dacarbazine 1,000 mg/m2 on day 1 of a 21-day cycle to evaluate the PK of dacarbazine alone. Sorafenib 400 mg was administered twice daily continuously starting at day 2 of cycle 1. The PK of dacarbazine in the presence of sorafenib was assessed on day 1 of cycle 2. Sorafenib PK was also assessed at steady state.
PK data were available for 15 of 23 patients. With concomitant administration of sorafenib, the mean AUC and Cmax values of dacarbazine were reduced by 23 and 16%, respectively. Mean AUC and Cmax values of AIC were increased by 41 and 45%, respectively, with individual increases of up to 106 and 136%, respectively. The apparent terminal half-lives of the two compounds were not significantly influenced by sorafenib. Based on coefficients of variation, the AUC and Cmax values for sorafenib and its three metabolites were highly variable with dacarbazine coadministration.
Concomitant administration of sorafenib and dacarbazine as described above may result in decreased dacarbazine exposure but increased AIC exposure.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00280-010-1423-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3123694  PMID: 20821331
Sorafenib; Dacarbazine; AIC; Pharmacokinetics; Phase I
19.  MHC Class I-Related Neonatal Fc Receptor for IgG Is Functionally Expressed in Monocytes, Intestinal Macrophages, and Dendritic Cells1 
The neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) for IgG, an MHC class I-related molecule, functions to transport IgG across polarized epithelial cells and protect IgG from degradation. However, little is known about whether FcRn is functionally expressed in immune cells. We show here that FcRn mRNA was identifiable in human monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells. FcRn heavy chain was detectable as a 45-kDa protein in monocytic U937 and THP-1 cells and in purified human intestinal macrophages, peripheral blood monocytes, and dendritic cells by Western blot analysis. FcRn colocalized in vivo with macrosialin (CD68) and Ncl-Macro, two macrophage markers, in the lamina propria of human small intestine. The heavy chain of FcRn was associated with the β2-microglobulin (β2m) light chain in U937 and THP-1 cells. FcRn bound human IgG at pH 6.0, but not at pH 7.5. This binding could be inhibited by human IgG Fc, but not Fab. FcRn could be detected on the cell surface of activated, but not resting, THP-1 cells. Furthermore, FcRn was uniformly present intracellularly in all blood monocytes and intestinal macrophages. FcRn was detectable on the cell surface of a significant fraction of monocytes at lower levels and on a small subset of tissue macrophages that expressed high levels of FcRn on the cell surface. These data show that FcRn is functionally expressed and its cellular distribution is regulated in monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells, suggesting that it may confer novel IgG binding functions upon these cell types relative to typical FcγRs: FcγRI, FcγRII, and FcγRIII.
PMCID: PMC2827247  PMID: 11207281
20.  Dendritic Cell-Derived Exosomes Promote Natural Killer Cell Activation and Proliferation: A Role for NKG2D Ligands and IL-15Rα 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4942.
Dendritic cell (DC) derived-exosomes (Dex) are nanomeric vesicles harboring functional MHC/peptide complexes promoting T cell-dependent tumor rejection. In the first Phase I trial using peptide-pulsed Dex, the observation of clinical regressions in the absence of T cell responses prompted the search for alternate effector mechanisms. Mouse studies unraveled the bioactivity of Dex on NK cells. Indeed, Dex promoted an IL-15Rα- and NKG2D-dependent NK cell proliferation and activation respectively, resulting in anti-metastatic effects mediated by NK1.1+ cells. In humans, Dex express functional IL-15Rα which allow proliferation and IFNγ secretion by NK cells. In contrast to immature DC, human Dex harbor NKG2D ligands on their surface leading to a direct engagement of NKG2D and NK cell activation ex vivo. In our phase I clinical trial, we highlight the capacity of Dex based-vaccines to restore the number and NKG2D-dependent function of NK cells in 7/14 patients. Altogether, these data provide a mechanistic explanation on how Dex may stimulate non MHC restricted-anti-tumor effectors and induce tumor regression in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2657211  PMID: 19319200
21.  CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells inhibit natural killer cell functions in a transforming growth factor–β–dependent manner 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2005;202(8):1075-1085.
Tumor growth promotes the expansion of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T (T reg) cells that counteract T cell–mediated immune responses. An inverse correlation between natural killer (NK) cell activation and T reg cell expansion in tumor-bearing patients, shown here, prompted us to address the role of T reg cells in controlling innate antitumor immunity. Our experiments indicate that human T reg cells expressed membrane-bound transforming growth factor (TGF)–β, which directly inhibited NK cell effector functions and down-regulated NKG2D receptors on the NK cell surface. Adoptive transfer of wild-type T reg cells but not TGF-β−/− T reg cells into nude mice suppressed NK cell–mediated cytotoxicity, reduced NKG2D receptor expression, and accelerated the growth of tumors that are normally controlled by NK cells. Conversely, the depletion of mouse T reg cells exacerbated NK cell proliferation and cytotoxicity in vivo. Human NK cell–mediated tumor recognition could also be restored by depletion of T reg cells from tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. These findings support a role for T reg cells in blunting the NK cell arm of the innate immune system.
PMCID: PMC2213209  PMID: 16230475
22.  Vaccination of metastatic melanoma patients with autologous dendritic cell (DC) derived-exosomes: results of thefirst phase I clinical trial 
DC derived-exosomes are nanomeric vesicles harboring functional MHC/peptide complexes capable of promoting T cell immune responses and tumor rejection. Here we report the feasability and safety of the first Phase I clinical trial using autologous exosomes pulsed with MAGE 3 peptides for the immunization of stage III/IV melanoma patients. Secondary endpoints were the monitoring of T cell responses and the clinical outcome.
Patients and methods
Exosomes were purified from day 7 autologous monocyte derived-DC cultures. Fifteen patients fullfilling the inclusion criteria (stage IIIB and IV, HLA-A1+, or -B35+ and HLA-DPO4+ leukocyte phenotype, tumor expressing MAGE3 antigen) were enrolled from 2000 to 2002 and received four exosome vaccinations. Two dose levels of either MHC class II molecules (0.13 versus 0.40 × 1014 molecules) or peptides (10 versus 100 μg/ml) were tested. Evaluations were performed before and 2 weeks after immunization. A continuation treatment was performed in 4 cases of non progression.
The GMP process allowed to harvest about 5 × 1014 exosomal MHC class II molecules allowing inclusion of all 15 patients. There was no grade II toxicity and the maximal tolerated dose was not achieved. One patient exhibited a partial response according to the RECIST criteria. This HLA-B35+/A2+ patient vaccinated with A1/B35 defined CTL epitopes developed halo of depigmentation around naevi, a MART1-specific HLA-A2 restricted T cell response in the tumor bed associated with progressive loss of HLA-A2 and HLA-BC molecules on tumor cells during therapy with exosomes. In addition, one minor, two stable and one mixed responses were observed in skin and lymph node sites. MAGE3 specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses could not be detected in peripheral blood.
The first exosome Phase I trial highlighted the feasibility of large scale exosome production and the safety of exosome administration.
PMCID: PMC554765  PMID: 15740633
exosomes; dendritic cells; phase I trial; cancer vaccine; immunotherapy
23.  Novel mode of action of c-kit tyrosine kinase inhibitors leading to NK cell–dependent antitumor effects 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2004;114(3):379-388.
Mutant isoforms of the KIT or PDGF receptors expressed by gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are considered the therapeutic targets for STI571 (imatinib mesylate; Gleevec), a specific inhibitor of these tyrosine kinase receptors. Case reports of clinical efficacy of Gleevec in GISTs lacking the typical receptor mutations prompted a search for an alternate mode of action. Here we show that Gleevec can act on host DCs to promote NK cell activation. DC-mediated NK cell activation was triggered in vitro and in vivo by treatment of DCs with Gleevec as well as by a loss-of-function mutation of KIT. Therefore, tumors that are refractory to the antiproliferative effects of Gleevec in vitro responded to Gleevec in vivo in an NK cell–dependent manner. Longitudinal studies of Gleevec-treated GIST patients revealed a therapy-induced increase in IFN-γ production by NK cells, correlating with an enhanced antitumor response. These data point to a novel mode of antitumor action for Gleevec.
PMCID: PMC489961  PMID: 15286804
24.  Interaction of Dendritic Cells with Skin Endothelium: A New Perspective on Immunosurveillance  
The goal of this study was to determine the mechanisms by which dendritic cells (DCs) in blood could interact with endothelium, a prerequisite to extravasation into tissues. Our results indicate that DCs express both HECA-452–reactive and nonreactive isoforms of P-selectin glycoprotein ligand 1 (PSGL-1) and can tether and roll efficiently on E- and P-selectin under flow conditions in vitro. Freshly isolated blood DCs were further observed to roll continuously along noninflamed murine dermal endothelium in vivo. This interaction is strictly dependent on endothelial selectins, as shown by experiments with blocking antibodies and with E- and P-selectin–deficient mice. We hypothesize that DCs in blood are constitutively poised at the interface of blood and skin, ready to extravasate upon induction of inflammation, and we showed that cutaneous inflammation results in a rapid recruitment of DCs from the blood to tissues. We propose that this is an important and previously unappreciated element of immunosurveillance.
PMCID: PMC2192925  PMID: 9989977
inflammation; immunosurveillance; selectins; rolling; extravasation
25.  Development of ipilimumab: a novel immunotherapeutic approach for the treatment of advanced melanoma 
The immunotherapeutic agent ipilimumab has helped address a significant unmet need in the treatment of advanced melanoma. Ipilimumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody that targets cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4), thereby augmenting antitumor immune responses. After decades in which a number of clinical trials were conducted, ipilimumab was the first therapy to improve overall survival in a randomized, controlled phase III trial of patients with advanced melanoma. These results led to the regulatory approval of ipilimumab at 3 mg/kg for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma. More than 17,000 patients worldwide have received ipilimumab, either as a commercial drug at 3 mg/kg or in clinical trials and expanded access programs at different doses. Consistent with its proposed mechanism of action, the most common toxicities associated with ipilimumab therapy are inflammatory in nature. These immune-related adverse events were mostly reversible when effective treatment guidelines were followed. Importantly, long-term follow-up of patients who received ipilimumab in a phase III trial showed that 24% survived at least two years, and in phase II studies, a proportion of patients survived at least five years. Evaluation of ipilimumab is ongoing in the adjuvant setting for melanoma, and for advanced disease in nonsmall cell lung, small cell lung, prostate, ovarian, and gastric cancers.
PMCID: PMC3910157  PMID: 23772560
cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4; immuno-oncology; immunotherapy; ipilimumab; melanoma; monoclonal antibody

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