Curr HIV/AIDS Rep
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Immune checkpoint inhibitors targeting the programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) pathway are a class of anti-cancer immunotherapy agents changing treatment paradigms of many cancers that occur at higher rates in people living with HIV (PLWH) than in the general population. However, PLWH have been excluded from most of the initial clinical trials with these agents. RECENT FINDINGS: Two recent prospective studies of anti-PD-1 agents, along with observational studies and a meta-analysis, have demonstrated acceptable safety in PLWH. Preliminary evidence indicates activity in a range of tumors and across CD4+ T cell counts. Safety and preliminary activity data suggest monoclonal antibodies targeting PD-1 or its ligand, PD-L1, are generally appropriate for PLWH and cancers for which there are FDA-approved indications. Ongoing and future trials of anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 therapy alone or in combination for HIV-associated cancers may further improve outcomes for this underserved population.
People living with HIV are a global population with increased cancer risk but their access to modern immunotherapies for cancer treatment has been limited by socioeconomic factors and inadequate research to support safety and efficacy in this population. These immunotherapies include immune checkpoint inhibitors and advances in cellular immunotherapy, particularly chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. Despite the field of cancer immunotherapy rapidly expanding with ongoing clinical trials, people with HIV are often excluded from such trials. In 2019, post-approval evaluation of anti-CD19 CAR T-cell therapy in people with HIV and aggressive B-cell lymphoma showed the feasibility of CAR T-cell therapy for cancer in this excluded group. Along with expanded treatment options for people with HIV is the ability to assess the effects of immunotherapy on the latent HIV reservoir, with certain immunotherapies showing the ability to alleviate this burden. This Series paper addresses the increased cancer burden in people with HIV, the increasing evidence for the safety and efficacy of immunotherapies in the context of HIV and cancer, and opportunities for novel applications of CAR-T therapy for the treatment of both haematological malignancies and HIV.
Infection by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is necessary for the development of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), which most often develops in HIV-infected individuals. KS frequently has oral manifestations and KSHV DNA can be detected in oral cells. Numerous types of cancer are associated with the alteration of microbiome including bacteria and virus. We hypothesize that oral bacterial microbiota affects or is affected by oral KS and the presence of oral cell-associated KSHV DNA. In this study, oral and blood specimens were collected from a cohort of HIV/KSHV-coinfected individuals all previously diagnosed with KS, and were classified as having oral KS with any oral cell-associated KSHV DNA status (O-KS, n = 9), no oral KS but with oral cell-associated KSHV DNA (O-KSHV, n = 10), or with neither oral KS nor oral cell-associated KSHV DNA (No KSHV, n = 10). We sequenced the hypervariable V1-V2 region of the 16S rRNA gene present in oral cell-associated DNA by next generation sequencing. The diversity, richness, relative abundance of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and taxonomic composition of oral microbiota were analyzed and compared across the 3 studied groups. We found impoverishment of oral microbial diversity and enrichment of specific microbiota in O-KS individuals compared to O-KSHV or No KSHV individuals. These results suggest that HIV/KSHV coinfection and oral microbiota might impact one another and influence the development of oral KS.
Cancer Immunol Res
Whereas systemic IL-12 is associated with potentially life-threatening toxicity, intra-tumoral delivery of IL-12 through tavokinogene telseplasmid electroporation (tavo) is safe and can induce tumor regression at distant sites. The mechanism by which these responses are mediated is unknown, but is presumed to result from a cellular immune response. In a phase II clinical trial of tavo (NCT01502293), samples from 28 cutaneous melanoma patients with in-transit disease were assessed for immune responses induced with this treatment. Within the blood circulating immune cell population, we found that the frequencies of circulating PD-1+ CD4+ and CD8+ T cells declined with treatment. Circulating immune responses to gp100 were also detected following treatment as measured by IFN-γ ELISPOT. Patients with a greater antigen-specific circulating immune response also had higher numbers of CD8+ T cells within the tumor. Clinical response was also associated with increased intratumoral CD3+ T cells. Finally, intratumoral T cell clonality and convergence were increased after treatment, indicating a focusing of the TCR repertoire. These results indicated that local treatment with tavo can induce a systemic T cell response and recruit T cells to the tumor microenvironment.
J Clin Invest
BACKGROUND: Idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease (iMCD) is a hematologic illness involving cytokine-induced lymphoproliferation, systemic inflammation, cytopenias, and life-threatening multi-organ dysfunction. The molecular underpinnings of interleukin-6(IL-6)-blockade refractory patients remain unknown; no targeted therapies exist. In this study, we searched for therapeutic targets in IL-6-blockade refractory iMCD patients with the thrombocytopenia, anasarca, fever/elevated C-reactive protein, reticulin myelofibrosis, renal dysfunction, organomegaly (TAFRO) clinical subtype. METHODS: We analyzed tissues and blood samples from three IL-6-blockade refractory iMCD-TAFRO patients. Cytokine panels, quantitative serum proteomics, flow cytometry of PBMCs, and pathway analyses were employed to identify novel therapeutic targets. To confirm elevated mTOR signaling, a candidate therapeutic target from the above assays, immunohistochemistry was performed for phosphorylated S6, a read-out of mTOR activation, in three iMCD lymph node tissue samples and controls. Proteomic, immunophenotypic, and clinical response assessments were performed to quantify the effects of administration of the mTOR inhibitor, sirolimus. RESULTS: Studies of three IL-6-blockade refractory iMCD cases revealed increased CD8+ T cell activation, VEGF-A, and PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway activity. Administration of sirolimus significantly attenuated CD8+ T cell activation and decreased VEGF-A levels. Sirolimus induced clinical benefit responses in all three patients with durable and ongoing remissions of 66, 19, and 19 months. CONCLUSION: This precision medicine approach identifies PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling as the first pharmacologically-targetable pathogenic process in IL-6-blockade refractory iMCD. Prospective evaluation of sirolimus in treatment-refractory iMCD is planned (NCT03933904). FUNDING: Castleman's Awareness & Research Effort/Castleman Disease Collaborative Network, Penn Center for Precision Medicine, University Research Foundation, Intramural NIH funding, and National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
J Infect Dis
BACKGROUND: Despite increasing numbers of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected South Africans receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART), tuberculosis (TB) remains the leading cause of mortality. Approximately 25% of patients treated for TB have microbiologically unconfirmed diagnoses. We assessed whether elevated Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) viral load (VL) contributes to mortality in hospitalized HIV-infected patients investigated for TB. METHODS: Six hundred eighty-two HIV-infected patients admitted to Khayelitsha Hospital, South Africa, were recruited, investigated for TB, and followed for 12 weeks. KSHV serostatus, peripheral blood KSHV-VL, and KSHV-associated clinical correlates were evaluated. RESULTS: Median CD4 count was 62 (range, 0-526) cells/muL; KSHV seropositivity was 30.7% (95% confidence interval [CI], 27%-34%); 5.8% had detectable KSHV-VL (median, 199.1 [range, 13.4-2.2 x 106] copies/106 cells); 22% died. Elevated KSHV-VL was associated with mortality (adjusted odds ratio, 6.5 [95% CI, 1.3-32.4]) in patients without TB or other microbiologically confirmed coinfections (n = 159). Six patients had "possible KSHV-inflammatory cytokine syndrome" (KICS): 5 died, representing significantly worse survival (P < .0001), and 1 patient was diagnosed with KSHV-associated multicentric Castleman disease at autopsy. CONCLUSIONS: Given the association of mortality with elevated KSHV-VL in critically ill HIV-infected patients with suspected but not microbiologically confirmed TB, KSHV-VL and KICS criteria may guide diagnostic and therapeutic evaluation.
Cancer Immunol Immunother
Therapeutic cancer vaccines have met limited clinical success. In the setting of cancer, the immune system is either tolerized and/or has a limited tumor-specific T cell repertoire. In this study, we explore whether intratumoral (IT) vaccination with an HPV vaccine can elicit quantitative and qualitative differences in immune response as compared to intramuscular (IM) vaccination to overcome immune resistance in established tumors. We report that IT administration of an HPV-16 E7 peptide vaccine formulated with polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid [poly(I:C)] generated an enhanced antitumor effect relative to IM delivery. The elicited anti-tumor effect with IT vaccination was consistent among the vaccinated groups and across various C57BL/6 substrains. IT vaccination resulted in an increased frequency of PD-1(hi) TILs, which represented both vaccine-targeted and non-vaccine-targeted tumor-specific CD8(+) T cells. Overall, the CD8(+)/Treg ratio was increased within the tumor microenvironment using IT vaccination. We also assessed transcriptional changes in several immune-related genes in the tumor microenvironment of the various treated groups, and our data suggest that IT vaccination leads to upregulation of a broad complement of immunomodulatory genes, including upregulation of interferon gamma (IFNgamma) and antigen presentation and processing machine (APM) components. IT vaccine delivery is superior to traditional IM vaccination routes with the potential to improve tumor immunogenicity, which has potential clinical application in the setting of accessible lesions such as head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs).