Neuropilin-1 (NRP-1) was initially characterized as a neuronal receptor for specific secreted members of the semaphorin family involved in axon repulsion. However, it was recently reported to play an important role in the immune system. This study aimed to investigate the role of NRP-1 expression on monocytes in trastuzumab-mediated antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) targeting the HER2-positive human breast cell line SKBR3.


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from healthy volunteers were prepared using Lymphoprep. The cells were stained with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated anti-CD14 and allophycocyanin (APC)-conjugated anti-NRP-1 antibodies, and an NRP-1high and NRP-1low monocyte subset was sorted using FACSAria. These cells were used as effector cells in a conventional ADCC assay using SKBR3 as target cells and trastuzumab as an antibody. Target cell cytotoxicity was measured using the LDH cytotoxic test kit. A CD107a degranulation assay was also used to determine the role of NRP-1 expression on monocytes in ADCC. PBMCs were co-cultured with target SKBR3 cells and trastuzumab for 2 h, stained with APC-conjugated anti-NRP-1 and PE-Cy5-conjugated anti-CD107a antibodies, and analyzed by flow cytometry.


The LDH cytotoxic test revealed significantly higher target cancer cell cytotoxicity in sorted NRP-1 high monocytes (12%) than in NRP-1 low monocytes (4%). Interestingly, microscopic findings showed that most NRP-1 high monocytes covered trastuzumab-treated target cancer cells (showing higher cellular cytotoxicity) while NRP-1 low monocytes did not cover the target cells but changed their morphology from a round to a dendritic shape (showing less cellular cytotoxicity) during ADCC. Moreover, the degranulation assay showed a higher expression of CD107a in NRP-1 high monocytes (17.4%) than in NRP-1 low monocytes (1.16%). Mean fluorescence intensity of CD107a in NRP-1 high and NRP-1 low monocytes was 92.6 and 26.3, respectively.


These data suggest that NRP-1 high monocytes exhibit higher trastuzumab-mediated ADCC than NRP-1 low monocytes in HER2-positive breast cancer cell lines. It may therefore be possible to differentiate HER2-positive breast cancer patients for whom trastuzumab will be less effective by testing for monocyte NRP-1 expression levels.

Citation Format: Kosuke Kawaguchi, Eiji Suzuki, Tomoharu Sugie, Fumiaki Sato, Masakazu Toi. Neurropilin-1 high monocytes play an important role in trastuzumab mediated antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity in HER2 positive breast cancer cell lines. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 104th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2013 Apr 6-10; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2013;73(8 Suppl):Abstract nr 1536. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2013-1536