Background: TLR9 agonists are being developed as immunotherapy against malignancies and infections. TLR9 is primarily expressed in B cells and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). TLR9 signalling may be critically important for B cell activity in lymph nodes but little is known about the in vivo impact of TLR9 agonism on human lymph node B cells. As a pre-defined sub-study within our clinical trial investigating TLR9 agonist MGN1703 (lefitolimod) treatment in the context of developing HIV cure strategies (NCT02443935), we assessed TLR9 agonist-mediated effects in lymph nodes.
Methods: Participants received MGN1703 for 24 weeks concurrent with antiretroviral therapy. Seven participants completed the sub-study including lymph node resection at baseline and after 24 weeks of treatment. A variety of tissue-based immunologic and virologic parameters were assessed.
Findings: MGN1703 dosing increased B cell differentiation; activated pDCs, NK cells, and T cells; and induced a robust interferon response in lymph nodes. Expression of Activation-Induced cytidine Deaminase, an essential regulator of B cell diversification and somatic hypermutation, was highly elevated. During MGN1703 treatment IgG production increased and antibody glycosylation patterns were changed.
Interpretation: Our data present novel evidence that the TLR9 agonist MGN1703 modulates human lymph node B cells in vivo. These findings warrant further considerations in the development of TLR9 agonists as immunotherapy against cancers and infectious diseases. FUND: This work was supported by Aarhus University Research Foundation, the Danish Council for Independent Research and the NovoNordisk Foundation. Mologen AG provided study drug free of charge.
Keywords: Antibody glycosylation; B cell differentiation; B cell follicle; HIV cure; TLR9 agonist.
Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier B.V.