INTRODUCTION: CD73 catalyzes the extracellular generation of adenosine (ADO) from adenosine monophosphate (AMP). ADO suppresses immune responses, including those of T cells, NK cells and dendritic cells through activation of A2aR and A2bR receptors. Exhausted T cells and NK cells express high levels of several immune checkpoint proteins, including PD-1 and TIGIT. We present here preclinical data on the ability of CD73i to reverse effector cell suppression from exposure to ADO even in the presence of ICI.

METHODS: CD73i effects in a monotherapeutic setting were assessed by CD3/CD28/CD2 T cell stimulation and cytolytic assays. Combinatorial settings were assessed using mixed lymphocyte reactions (MLRs). In vivo effects of CD73i + ICI were determined using syngeneic tumor models.

RESULTS: CD73 is expressed across a wide range of tumor types, including those with limited response to anti-PD-1 therapy. CD73i completely rescued AMP-mediated inhibition of T cell proliferation and effector function as well as NK cell cytolytic function. AMP abrogated the enhanced allogeneic CD4+ T cell activation and IFN-γ production mediated by blocking PD-1/PD-L1 and TIGIT, an effect that was reversed by CD73i. Mechanistically, addition of AMP in MLRs repressed expression of activation markers and immune checkpoint proteins. Thus, activation of the adenosinergic pathway may limit the efficacy of ICI. TCGA data from anti-PD-1-treated melanoma patients identified CD73 expression as a negative prognostic factor. Finally, co-administration of a CD73i with an anti-PD-1 mAb resulted in significant reduction of tumor volume associated with increases in immune cell infiltration.

CONCLUSIONS: CD73 inhibition, alone or in combination with anti-PD-1 and anti-TIGIT antibodies, translates into potent enhancement of immune cell activation in a variety of studies. These data provide a rationale for CD73i + ICI combinations.

Citation Format: Annette Becker, Nell Narasappa, Fangfang Yin, Kristen Zhang, Daniel DiRenzo, Timothy Park, Jaroslaw Kalisiak, Ken Lawson, Jenna Jeffrey, Jay P. Powers, Ulrike Schindler, Matthew J. Walters, Joanne B. Tan. CD73 inhibitors (CD73i) reverse the AMP/adenosine-mediated impairment of immune effector cell activation by immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018; 2018 Apr 14-18; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2018;78(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 710.