In vitro and in vivo model of a novel immunotherapy approach for chronic lymphocytic leukemia by anti-CD23 chimeric antigen receptor

Greta Maria Paola Giordano Attianese, Virna Marin, Valentina Hoyos, Barbara Savoldo, Irene Pizzitola, Sarah Tettamanti, Valentina Agostoni, Matteo Parma, Maurilio Ponzoni, Maria T S Bertilaccio, Paolo Ghia, Andrea Biondi, Gianpietro Dotti, Ettore Biagi
Blood 2011 May 5, 117 (18): 4736-45
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is characterized by an accumulation of mature CD19(+)CD5(+)CD20(dim) B lymphocytes that typically express the B-cell activation marker CD23. In the present study, we cloned and expressed in T lymphocytes a novel chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) targeting the CD23 antigen (CD23.CAR). CD23.CAR(+) T cells showed specific cytotoxic activity against CD23(+) tumor cell lines (average lysis 42%) and primary CD23(+) CLL cells (average lysis 58%). This effect was obtained without significant toxicity against normal B lymphocytes, in contrast to CARs targeting CD19 or CD20 antigens, which are also expressed physiologically by normal B lymphocytes. Moreover, CLL-derived CD23.CAR(+) T cells released inflammatory cytokines (1445-fold more TNF-β, 20-fold more TNF-α, and 4-fold more IFN-γ). IL-2 was also produced (average release 2681 pg/mL) and sustained the antigen-dependent proliferation of CD23.CAR(+) T cells. Redirected T cells were also effective in vivo in a CLL Rag2(-/-)γ(c)(-/-) xenograft mouse model. Compared with mice treated with control T cells, the infusion of CD23.CAR(+) T cells resulted in a significant delay in the growth of the MEC-1 CLL cell line. These data suggest that CD23.CAR(+) T cells represent a selective immunotherapy for the elimination of CD23(+) leukemic cells in patients with CLL.

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