Efficacy of catumaxomab in tumor spheroid killing is mediated by its trifunctional mode of action

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2010 Nov;59(11):1675-84. doi: 10.1007/s00262-010-0894-1. Epub 2010 Jul 21.


Catumaxomab is an intact trifunctional bispecific antibody targeting human EpCAM (epithelial cell adhesion molecule) and CD3 with further binding to Fcgamma receptor type I, IIa and III. We choose multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTS) of human EpCAM-positive FaDu tumor cells in co-culture with human peripheral blood mononuclear cells as an adequate three-dimensional in vitro model for pharmacological testing of catumaxomab. We found a strong dose-dependent antitumor response mediated by catumaxomab, with volume-decreased or completely destroyed tumor spheroids together with a massive immune cell infiltration and decreased signals for cancer cell viability and clonogenicity. In control experiments with F(ab')2 fragments of catumaxomab and the parental antibodies alone or in combination the effects in spheroid volume reduction were less than that of catumaxomab. All binding partners of the postulated tricell complex have to be present to exert catumaxomab's full mode of action. These distinct effects of catumaxomab are based on the unique composition of the trifunctional bispecific antibody. Since, in general, many cancers are treated by chemotherapy in combination with immunological tumor therapy, we additionally analyzed the effects of cisplatin alone and in combination with catumaxomab. For cisplatin alone we detected a dose-dependent response relating to decrease of spheroid volume. The combined approach resulted in a synergistic spheroid volume decrease and the colony formation was reduced to non-detectable levels.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bispecific / therapeutic use*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • CD3 Complex / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / immunology*
  • Cell Survival
  • Cisplatin / therapeutic use
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / immunology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Spheroids, Cellular / immunology
  • Spheroids, Cellular / pathology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Stem Cell Assay


  • Antibodies, Bispecific
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • CD3 Complex
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule
  • catumaxomab
  • Cisplatin