T cells genetically modified with a CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CD19CAR) are remarkably effective against B-cell malignancies in clinical trials. However, major concerns remain regarding toxicities, such as hypogammaglobulinemia, due to B-cell aplasia or severe cytokine release syndrome after overactivation of CAR T cells. To resolve these adverse events, we aimed to develop an inducible CAR system by using a tetracycline regulation system that would be activated only in the presence of doxycycline (Dox). In this study, the second-generation CD19CAR was fused into the third-generation Tet-On vector (Tet-CD19CAR) and was retrovirally transduced into primary CD8(+) T cells. Tet-CD19CAR T cells were successfully generated and had minimal background CD19CAR expression without Dox. Tet-CD19CAR T cells in the presence of Dox were equivalently cytotoxic against CD19(+) cell lines and had equivalent cytokine production and proliferation upon CD19 stimulation, compared with conventional CD19CAR T cells. The Dox(+) Tet-CD19CAR T cells also had significant antitumor activity in a xenograft model. However, without Dox, Tet-CD19CAR T cells lost CAR expression and CAR T-cell functions in vitro and in vivo, clearly segregating the "On" and "Off" status of Tet-CD19CAR cells by Dox administration. In addition to suicide-gene technology, controlling the expression and the functions of CAR with an inducible vector is a potential solution for CAR T-cell therapy-related toxicities, and may improve the safety profile of CAR T-cell therapy. This strategy might also open the way to treat other malignancies in combination with other CAR or TCR gene-modified T cells. Cancer Immunol Res; 4(8); 658-68. ©2016 AACRSee related Spotlight by June, p. 643.
©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.