Based on a phase 1 dose escalation study, Pul and Notohardjo et al. reported that a single intradermal injection of tremelimumab (anti-CTLA-4) at the primary tumor excision site of patients with clinical stage I/II melanoma was safe and well tolerated. Intradermal anti-CTLA-4 systemically decreased activated Treg frequencies, increased conventional T cell activation and central memory conversion, and induced migratory dendritic cell subset activation in the sentinel LN. Systemic melanoma-specific T cell responses against NY-ESO-1 and MART-1 detected in responders were associated with increased T cell activation and memory T cell differentiation.
Contributed by Shishir Pant
ABSTRACT: Preclinical studies show that locoregional CTLA-4 blockade is equally effective in inducing tumor eradication as systemic delivery, without the added risk of immune-related side effects. This efficacy is related to access of the CTLA-4 blocking antibodies to tumor-draining lymph nodes (TDLNs). Local delivery of anti-CTLA-4 after surgical removal of primary melanoma, before sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), provides a unique setting to clinically assess the role of TDLN in the biological efficacy of locoregional CTLA-4 blockade. Here, we have evaluated the safety, tolerability, and immunomodulatory effects in the SLN and peripheral blood of a single dose of tremelimumab [a fully human immunoglobulin gamma-2 (IgG2) mAb directed against CTLA-4] in a dose range of 2 to 20 mg, injected intradermally at the tumor excision site 1 week before SLNB in 13 patients with early-stage melanoma (phase 1 trial; NCT04274816). Intradermal delivery was safe and well tolerated and induced activation of migratory dendritic cell (DC) subsets in the SLN. It also induced profound and durable decreases in regulatory T cell (T(reg)) frequencies and activation of effector T cells in both SLN and peripheral blood. Moreover, systemic T cell responses against NY-ESO-1 or MART-1 were primed or boosted (N = 7), in association with T cell activation and central memory T cell differentiation. These findings indicate that local administration of anti-CTLA-4 may offer a safe and promising adjuvant treatment strategy for patients with early-stage melanoma. Moreover, our data demonstrate a central role for TDLN in the biological efficacy of CTLA-4 blockade and support TDLN-targeted delivery methods.