PD-1 and ICOS co-expression identifies tumor-reactive CD4 T cells in human solid tumors.

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The Journal of clinical investigation


oregon; chiles; portland


CD4 T helper (Th) cells play a key role in orchestrating immune responses, but the identity of the CD4 Th cells involved in the anti-tumor immune response remains to be defined. We analyzed the immune cell infiltrates of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and colorectal cancers and identified a subset of CD4 Th cells distinct from FOXP3+ regulatory T cells that co-express PD-1 and ICOS. These tumor-infiltrating CD4 Th cells (CD4 Th TIL) have a tissue-resident memory phenotype, are present in MHC class II-rich areas and proliferate in the tumor suggesting local antigen recognition. The T-cell receptor repertoire of the PD-1+ICOS+ CD4 Th TIL is oligoclonal, with T-cell clones expanded in the tumor, but present at low frequencies in the periphery. Finally, these PD-1+ICOS+ CD4 Th TIL were shown to recognize both tumor-associated antigens and tumor-specific neoantigens. Our findings provide an approach for isolating tumor-reactive CD4 Th TIL directly ex vivo that will help define their role in the anti-tumor immune response and potentially improve future adoptive T-cell therapy approaches.

Clinical Institute



Earle A. Chiles Research Institute