01.01.23 IL7 and IL7 Flt3L co-expressing CAR T cells improve therapeutic efficacy in mouse EGFRvIII heterogeneous glioblastoma
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy in glioblastoma faces many challenges including insufficient CAR T cell abundance and antigen-negative tumor cells evading targeting. Unfortunately, preclinical studies evaluating CAR T cells in glioblastoma focus on tumor models that express a single antigen, use immunocompromised animals, and/or pre-treat with lymphodepleting agents. While lymphodepletion enhances CAR T cell efficacy, it diminishes the endogenous immune system that has the potential for tumor eradication. Here, we engineered CAR T cells to express IL7 and/or Flt3L in 50% EGFRvIII-positive and -negative orthotopic tumors pre-conditioned with non-lymphodepleting irradiation. IL7 and IL7 Flt3L CAR T cells increased intratumoral CAR T cell abundance seven days after treatment. IL7 co-expression with Flt3L modestly increased conventional dendritic cells as well as the CD103+XCR1+ population known to have migratory and antigen cross-presenting capabilities. Treatment with IL7 or IL7 Flt3L CAR T cells improved overall survival to 67% and 50%, respectively, compared to 9% survival with conventional or Flt3L CAR T cells. We concluded that CAR T cells modified to express IL7 enhanced CAR T cell abundance and improved overall survival in EGFRvIII heterogeneous tumors pre-conditioned with non-lymphodepleting irradiation. Potentially IL7 or IL7 Flt3L CAR T cells can provide new opportunities to combine CAR T cells with other immunotherapies for the treatment of glioblastoma.