Guedan S, Chen X, Madar A, Carpenito C, McGettigan SE, Frigault MJ, Lee J, Posey AD Jr, Scholler J, Scholler N, Bonneau R, June CH. ICOS-based chimeric antigen receptors program bipolar TH17/TH1 cells. Blood. 2014 Aug 14;124(7):1070-80. doi: 10.1182/blood-2013-10-535245. Epub 2014 Jul 1. PMID: 24986688; PMCID: PMC4133482.
With the notable exception of B-cell malignancies, the efficacy of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells has been limited, and CAR T cells have not been shown to expand and persist in patients with nonlymphoid tumors. Here we demonstrate that redirection of primary human T cells with a CAR containing the inducible costimulator (ICOS) intracellular domain generates tumor-specific IL-17-producing effector cells that show enhanced persistence. Compared with CARs containing the CD3ζ chain alone, or in tandem with the CD28 or the 4-1BB intracellular domains, ICOS signaling increased IL-17A, IL-17F, and IL-22 following antigen recognition. In addition, T cells redirected with an ICOS-based CAR maintained a core molecular signature characteristic of TH17 cells and expressed higher levels of RORC, CD161, IL1R-1, and NCS1. Of note, ICOS signaling also induced the expression of IFN-γ and T-bet, consistent with a TH17/TH1 bipolarization. When transferred into mice with established tumors, TH17 cells that were redirected with ICOS-based CARs mediated efficient antitumor responses and showed enhanced persistence compared with CD28- or 4-1BB-based CAR T cells. Thus, redirection of TH17 cells with a CAR encoding the ICOS intracellular domain is a promising approach to augment the function and persistence of CAR T cells in hematologic malignancies.