Purpose: Current understanding of resistance to CAR-T cell therapy in solid tumors implicates inadequate CAR-T cell potency in the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME). We have previously developed a platform using somatostatin receptor 2 (SSTR2) as a positron emission tomography (PET) reporter to detect CAR-T cell expansion and trafficking. The current study aimed to leverage SSTR2 for low-dose targeted radionuclide therapy (177Lu-DOTATATE, Lutathera), which under dosimetry guidance might enhance antitumor immunity by reprograming the TME and promoting T-cell reinvigoration.

Methods: Using intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) as a model antigen, we evaluated the immunomodulatory effects of low-dose radiation in a gastric cancer animal model. NSG mice were inoculated subcutaneously with firefly luciferase-expressing Hs 746T cells (0.1 × 106 per mouse) and treated 5 days later with 10 × 106 SSTR2-expressing ICAM-1 CAR-T cells. CAR-T cell expansion was monitored weekly by PET scan using 18F-NOTA-Octreotide, a radiotracer targeting SSTR2. Three weeks post-T cell infusion, a cohort of mice were injected with 7.4 MBq of 177Lu-DOTATATE via the tail vein. SPECT imaging was performed for dosimetry analysis. Tumor growth was monitored by bioluminescence imaging and tumor size measurement. Serum cytokines were analyzed.

Results: Single dose 177Lu-DOTATATE treatment (delivering 1-6 Gy to tumor) improved response of established gastric cancer tumor (>1,000 mm3) that was not responsive to CAR-T cell treatment alone and significantly prolonged survival. All mice receiving CAR-T cells plus 177Lu-DOTATATE displayed rapid tumor shrinkage, with 83% of mice achieving complete remission within 3 weeks of 177Lu-DOTATATE treatment. SPECT imaging confirmed specific delivery of 177Lu-DOTATATE by tumor-infiltrating CAR-T cells, with tumor uptake of 0.43 ± 0.24 and 0.19 ± 0.08 MBq/g at 24 and 144 hours post 177Lu-DOTATATE injection, respectively. Most radioactivity reduction over time (73%) is explained by physical decay of 177Lu, indicating persistent tumor retention of 177Lu-DOTATATE. In contrast, rapid clearance of 177Lu-DOTATATE was observed in liver and kidneys. Importantly, longitudinal CAR-T cell imaging using 18F-NOTA-Octreotide revealed increased CAR-T cell expansion induced by low-dose radiation. Furthermore, we detected high levels of IFN-γ and perforin in serum after 177Lu-DOTATATE treatment, which were >10 folds higher than that in control mice receiving CAR-T cell only, indicating activation of T cells by low-dose radiation.

Conclusions: We developed a translatable radioimmunotherapy platform that incorporates a FDA-approved theranostic endoradiotherapy (Lutathera) to improve tumor response to CAR-T cell therapy. The next steps would be to explore the immunomodulatory effects of low-dose radiation systematically and elucidate the mechanism of action.

Citation Format: Yanping Yang, Yago Alcaina, Yogindra Vedvyas, Maria Cristina Riascos, Edward K. Fung, Brett Vaughn, Sarah M. Cheal, Irene M. Min, Claire Vanpouille-Box, Moonsoo M. Jin. Targeted delivery of low-dose radiation alleviates tumor resistance to CAR-T cell therapy. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2023; Part 1 (Regular and Invited Abstracts); 2023 Apr 14-19; Orlando, FL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2023;83(7_Suppl):Abstract nr 5084.