TLR9 plus STING Agonist Adjuvant Combination Induces Potent Neopeptide T Cell Immunity and Improves Immune Checkpoint Blockade Efficacy in a Tumor Model

Melisa D. Castro Eiro, Kou Hioki, Ling Li, Merel E.P. Wilmsen, Caoimhe H. Kiernan, Inge Brouwers-Haspels, Marjan van Meurs, Manzhi Zhao, Harm de Wit, Dwin G.B. Grashof, Harmen J.G. van de Werken, Yvonne M. Mueller, Christopher Schliehe, Burcu Temizoz, Kouji Kobiyama, Ken J. Ishii, Peter D. Katsikis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) immunotherapies have emerged as promising strategies for the treatment of cancer; however, there remains a need to improve their efficacy. Determinants of ICB efficacy are the frequency of tumor mutations, the associated neoantigens, and the T cell response against them. Therefore, it is expected that neoantigen vaccinations that boost the antitumor T cell response would improve ICB therapy efficacy. The aim of this study was to develop a highly immunogenic vaccine using pattern recognition receptor agonists in combination with synthetic long peptides to induce potent neoantigen-specific T cell responses. We determined that the combination of the TLR9 agonist K-type CpG oligodeoxynucleotides (K3 CpG) with the STING agonist c-di-AMP (K3/c-di-AMP combination) significantly increased dendritic cell activation. We found that immunizing mice with 20-mer of either an OVA peptide, low-affinity OVA peptides, or neopeptides identified from mouse melanoma or lung mesothelioma, together with K3/c-di-AMP, induced potent Ag-specific T cell responses. The combined K3/c-di-AMP adjuvant formulation induced 10 times higher T cell responses against neopeptides than the TLR3 agonist polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid, a derivative of which is the leading adjuvant in clinical trials of neoantigen peptide vaccines. Moreover, we demonstrated that our K3/c-di-AMP vaccine formulation with 20-mer OVA peptide was capable of controlling tumor growth and improving survival in B16-F10-OVA tumor-bearing C57BL/6 mice and synergized with anti-PD-1 treatment. Together, our findings demonstrate that the K3/c-di-AMP vaccine formulation induces potent T cell immunity against synthetic long peptides and is a promising candidate to improve neoantigen vaccine platform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-465
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)
Volume212
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024

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© 2024 American Association of Immunologists. All rights reserved.

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