Regional delivery of mesothelin-targeted CAR T cell therapy generates potent and long-lasting CD4-dependent tumor immunity
Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
Translating the recent success of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy for hematological malignancies to solid tumors will necessitate overcoming several obstacles, including inefficient T cell tumor infiltration and insufficient functional persistence. Taking advantage of an orthotopic model that faithfully mimics human pleural malignancy, we evaluated two routes of administration of mesothelin-targeted T cells using the M28z CAR. We found that intrapleurally administered CAR T cells vastly outperformed systemically infused T cells, requiring 30-fold fewer M28z T cells to induce long-term complete remissions. After intrapleural T cell administration, prompt in vivo antigen-induced T cell activation allowed robust CAR T cell expansion and effector differentiation, resulting in enhanced antitumor efficacy and functional T cell persistence for 200 days. Regional T cell administration also promoted efficient elimination of extrathoracic tumor sites. This therapeutic efficacy was dependent on early CD4(+) T cell activation associated with a higher intratumoral CD4/CD8 cell ratios and CD28-dependent CD4(+) T cell-mediated cytotoxicity. In contrast, intravenously delivered CAR T cells, even when accumulated at equivalent numbers in the pleural tumor, did not achieve comparable activation, tumor eradication, or persistence. The ability of intrapleurally administered T cells to circulate and persist supports the concept of delivering optimal CAR T cell therapy through "regional distribution centers." On the basis of these results, we are opening a phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate the safety of intrapleural administration of mesothelin-targeted CAR T cells in patients with primary or secondary pleural malignancies.