Concomitant or delayed anti-TNF differentially impact on immune-related adverse events and antitumor efficacy after anti-CD40 therapy

Celia Jacoberger-Foissac, Stephen J. Blake, Jing Liu, Elizabeth McDonald, Hannah Triscott, Kyohei Nakamura, Mark J. Smyth, Michele W.L. Teng

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Background Concomitant tumor necrosis factor (TNF) neutralization in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) reduces clinical immune-related adverse events (irAEs) and appears to improve antitumor efficacy in preclinical tumor models. Agonistic antibodies targeting costimulatory receptors such as CD40 represent an additional strategy to boost antitumor immune response and potentiate the activity of ICIs. However, the dose-limiting toxicities observed in anti-CD40-Treated cancer patients have hindered its clinical development.
Methods We previously described a mouse model to assess both antitumor activity and irAEs induced by various effective combination immunotherapies. Using the BALB/c and C57BL/6 strains of FoxP3-GFP-DTR (FoxP3 DTR) mice, transient depletion of T regulatory cells (Tregs) prior to immunotherapy with additional immunomodulatory antibodies, lowered immune self-Tolerance, resulting in the development of a spectrum of physical and biochemical irAEs similar to that reported clinically. In MC38 and 4T1.2 tumor models, following transient Treg depletion, we evaluated the impact of anti-CD40 on antitumor efficacy and the development of irAEs and the impact of concomitant or delayed TNF blockade on both these parameters. Physical irAEs were scored and biochemical irAEs were measured in the serum (ALT and cytokine levels). Histopathological liver and colon tissue analysis were performed to assess immune cell infiltration and tissue damage.
Results Similar to early clinical trials of CD40 agonists, in our tumor models we observed liver toxicities and rapid release of proinflammatory cytokines (TNF, interleukin 6, interferon- 3). In the BALB/c strain, anti-CD40 induced severe physical and biochemical irAEs. Concomitant anti-TNF treatment abrogated weight loss, liver damage and colitis, which consequently resulted in an improved clinical score. However, concomitant anti-TNF impaired antitumor response in a proportion of anti-CD40-Treated C57BL/6 FoxP3 DTR mice. Delaying TNF blockade in these mice reduced biochemical but not physical irAEs while preserving antitumor efficacy.
Conclusions Our results suggest concomitant rather than delayed anti-TNF is most effective in reducing biochemical and physical irAEs induced by anti-CD40, although it had the potential to negatively impact antitumor efficacy. Furthermore, our findings highlight the utility of our mouse model to assess the severity of irAEs induced by novel immunotherapeutic agents and evaluate whether their toxicity and antitumor efficacy can be uncoupled.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001687
Number of pages23
JournalJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • costimulatory and inhibitory T-cell receptors
  • cytokines
  • immunomodulation
  • immunotherapy


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