Mesothelin, a novel immunotherapy target for triple negative breast cancer
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Mesothelin is a cell-surface glycoprotein present on mesothelial cells and elicits T cell responses in a variety of cancers including pancreatic, biliary and ovarian cancer. Breast cancer is not known to express mesothelin. We postulated that mesothelin may be a unique tumor-associated antigen in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), a less common breast cancer subtype which may have been under-represented in prior studies that characterized mesothelin expression. Therefore, we screened 99 primary breast cancer samples by immunohistochemistry analysis using formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded archival tumor tissues and confirmed that mesothelin was overexpressed in the majority of TNBC (67 %) but only rarely in <5 % ER(+) or Her2-neu(+) breast cancer, respectively. To determine whether mesothelin may be exploited as a novel immunotherapy target in breast cancer, an in vitro cell killing assay was performed to compare the ability of genetically modified T cells expressing a chimeric antibody receptor (CAR) specific for mesothelin (mesoCAR T cells) or non-transduced T cells to kill mesothelin-expressing primary breast cancer cells. A significantly higher anti-tumor cytotoxicity by mesoCAR T cells was observed (31.7 vs. 8.7 %, p < 0.001). Our results suggest that mesothelin has promise as a novel immunotherapy target for TNBC for which effective targeted therapy is lacking to date.
KeywordsMesothelin Breast cancer subtypes Triple negative breast cancer Chimeric antigen receptor Immunotherapy
This study was, in part, funded by a pilot grant from NCI CCSG 2-P30-CA-016520-35 and the Abramson Cancer Center Richardson Breast Cancer Research Fund to JT; and by Pennsylvania Department of Health grant #0972501 to RHV and CHJ.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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