Rapid Expansion of Highly Functional Antigen-Specific T Cells from Patients with Melanoma by Nanoscale Artificial Antigen-Presenting Cells

Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Jul 1;26(13):3384-3396. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-3487. Epub 2020 Apr 2.


Purpose: Generation of antigen-specific T cells from patients with cancer employs large numbers of peripheral blood cells and/or tumor-infiltrating cells to generate antigen-presenting and effector cells commonly requiring multiple rounds of restimulation ex vivo. We used a novel paramagnetic, nanoparticle-based artificial antigen-presenting cell (nano-aAPC) that combines anti-CD28 costimulatory and human MHC class I molecules that are loaded with antigenic peptides to rapidly expand tumor antigen-specific T cells from patients with melanoma.

Experimental design: Nano-aAPC-expressing HLA-A*0201 molecules and costimulatory anti-CD28 antibody and HLA-A*0201 molecules loaded with MART-1 or gp100 class I-restricted peptides were used to stimulate CD8 T cells purified from the peripheral blood of treatment-naïve or PD-1 antibody-treated patients with stage IV melanoma. Expanded cells were restimulated with fresh peptide-pulsed nano-aAPC at day 7. Phenotype analysis and functional assays including cytokine release, cytolysis, and measurement of avidity were conducted.

Results: MART-1-specific CD8 T cells rapidly expanded up to 1,000-fold by day 14 after exposure to peptide-pulsed nano-aAPC. Expanded T cells had a predominantly stem cell memory CD45RA+/CD62L+/CD95+ phenotype; expressed ICOS, PD-1, Tim3, and LAG3; and lacked CD28. Cells from patients with melanoma were polyfunctional; highly avid; expressed IL2, IFNγ, and TNFα; and exhibited cytolytic activity against tumor cell lines. They expanded 2- to 3-fold after exposure to PD-1 antibody in vivo, and expressed a highly diverse T-cell receptor V beta repertoire.

Conclusions: Peptide-pulsed nano-aAPC rapidly expanded polyfunctional antigen-specific CD8 T cells with high avidity, potent lytic function, and a stem cell memory phenotype from patients with melanoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antigen Presentation / immunology
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology*
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / metabolism
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Melanoma / immunology*
  • Melanoma / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • T-Cell Antigen Receptor Specificity*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines