Adjuvant IL-7 potentiates adoptive T cell therapy by amplifying and sustaining polyfunctional antitumor CD4+ T cells

Zhi-Chun Ding, Tsadik Habtetsion, Yang Cao, Tao Li, Chufeng Liu, Michal Kuczma, Tingting Chen, Zhonglin Hao, Locke Johnson Bryan, David H Munn, Gang Zhou

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20 Scopus citations


Increased availability of homeostatic cytokines is considered a major mechanism by which lymphodepletion enhances the efficacy of adoptive T cell therapy (ACT). IL-7 is one such cytokine capable of augmenting the function of tumor-reactive CD8+ T cells. However, whether host-derived IL-7 plays a role in driving the proper function of CD4+ T cells in an ACT setting remains unclear. Here we report that lymphodepleting chemotherapy by cyclophosphamide (CTX) does not lead to increased availability of the endogenous IL-7 in mice. Despite of a paucity of IL-7 in the immune milieu, CTX preconditioning allowed adoptively transferred naïve tumor-specific CD4+ T cells to undergo effector differentiation and regain IL-7Rα expression, giving rise to IL-7-responsive polyfunctional CD4+ effector cells. Correspondingly, supplementation of exogenous recombinant IL-7 markedly amplified and sustained polyfunctional CD4+ effector cells, resulting in improved therapeutic outcome in a mouse lymphoma model. We further demonstrated that the immune-enhancing effects of IL-7 were also applicable to donor CD4+ T cells pre-activated under Th1 polarizing condition. These findings suggest caution in relying on the endogenous IL-7 to enhance donor T cell expansion and persistence after lymphodepleting chemotherapy, and highlight the usefulness of recombinant IL-7 as an adjuvant for adoptive immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12168
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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