, Volume 62, Issue 7, pp 1149-1159
Date: 09 May 2013

Activation, dysfunction and retention of T cells in vaccine sites after injection of incomplete Freund’s adjuvant, with or without peptide

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We conducted a randomized clinical trial in 45 patients with resected AJCC stage IIB-IV melanoma to characterize cellular and molecular events at sites of immunization with incomplete Freund’s adjuvant (IFA) alone, or a melanoma vaccine in IFA. At a primary vaccine site, all patients received a multi-peptide melanoma vaccine in IFA. At a replicate vaccine site, which was biopsied, group 1 received IFA only; group 2 received vaccine in IFA. Lymphocytes isolated from replicate vaccine site microenvironments (VSME) were compared to time-matched peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in ELISpot and flow cytometry assays. Compared to PBMC, the VSME had fewer naïve and greater proportions of effector memory CD8+ T cells (TCD8). The vast majority of TCD8 within the VSME were activated (CD69+), with a concentration of antigen-specific (tetramerpos) cells in the VSME, particularly in vaccine sites with peptide (group 2). CXCR3+ lymphocytes were concentrated in the VSME of all patients, suggesting IFA-induced chemokine recruitment. TCD8 expression of retention integrins αEβ7 and α1β1 was elevated in VSME, with the highest levels observed in antigen-specific cells in VSME containing peptide (group 2). TCD8 retained in the VSME of both groups were strikingly dysfunctional, with minimal IFN-γ production in response to peptide stimulation and few tetramerpos cells producing IFN-γ. These data suggest that vaccine-induced selective retention and dysfunction of antigen-specific TCD8 within VSME may represent a significant mechanism underlying transient immune responses and low clinical response rates to peptide vaccines administered in IFA.

Elise P. Salerno and Sofia M. Shea contributed equally to this work.
This paper is based on a presentation given at the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy (CIMT), held in Mainz, Germany, 23rd–25th May, 2012.