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Human Papillomavirus T-Cell Cross-reactivity in Cervical CancerImplications for Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Design

Educational Objective
Based on this Original Investigation and the accompanying materials, understand how to respond to the following clinical question: Does the cross-reactivity of T cells against the human papillomavirus (HPV) oncoproteins in HPV-positive cancers support current immunotherapeutic vaccine clinical trial designs in which the HPV type of the tumor is not matched with the HPV type of the vaccine?
1 Credit CME
Key Points

Question  Does the cross-reactivity of T cells against the human papillomavirus (HPV) oncoproteins in HPV-positive cancers support current immunotherapeutic vaccine clinical trial designs in which the HPV type of the tumor is not matched with the HPV type of the vaccine?

Findings  In an analysis of 16 samples, HPV-reactive tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes from patients with HPV-positive cancers displayed HPV-16/HPV-18 oncoprotein cross-reactivity in 1 of 16 samples. None of the 10 HPV-reactive T-cell receptors from the researchers’ library exhibited HPV-16/HPV-18 oncoprotein cross-reactivity.

Meaning  The low frequency of HPV-16/HPV-18 T-cell cross-reactivity supports clinical trial designs that match the HPV type of therapeutic vaccines to that of patient tumors.

Abstract

Importance  Clinical trials are testing vaccines that target human papillomavirus 16 (HPV-16) oncoproteins for the treatment of cervical cancer regardless of the HPV type of the tumor. For patients with HPV-18–positive cancers, this strategy relies on cross-reactivity of HPV-16–reactive T cells against the HPV-18 oncoproteins.

Objectives  To determine the prevalence of HPV-16 and HPV-18 metastatic cervical cancers in women enrolling in clinical trials at a US medical center and to assess whether HPV oncoprotein–targeting tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and T-cell receptors (TCRs) possess HPV-16/HPV-18 oncoprotein cross-reactivity.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This study was conducted at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, a tertiary care research hospital in the United States. The HPV type of the tumors from 65 consecutive patients with cervical cancer who were evaluated for participation in clinical trials was determined by retrospective medical record review. Immunological assays testing HPV cross-reactivity were conducted on all available archived samples of oncoprotein-reactive TILs from HPV-positive tumors (n = 16) and on a library of previously identified TCRs (n = 10).

Interventions  The HPV genotype of each patient’s tumor was determined. The cross-reactivity of archived TILs and a library of TCRs was assessed.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The main outcomes were the prevalence of each HPV genotype and the frequency of TILs or TCRs with HPV oncoprotein–T-cell cross-reactivity. Cross-reactivity was assessed by enzyme-linked immunospot assays and interferon-γ production assays.

Results  The median (range) age of 65 referred patients was 44 (24-64) years. Ethnicity was recorded for 39 of 65 patients; 35 (89.7%) were white, 3 (7.7%) were Asian, and 1 (2.6%) was American Indian/Alaskan Native. Histologic tumor subtype was recorded for 41 of 65 patients; 25 (61.0%) were squamous cell carcinomas, 12 (29.3%) were adenocarcinomas, 2 (4.9%) were adenosquamous cell carcinomas, and 2 (4.9%) were neuroendocrine tumors. Thirty-nine of 65 patients (60.0%) had HPV-16–positive tumors and 21 patients (32.3%) had HPV-18–positive tumors. In the analysis of cross-reactivity, 1 of 16 oncoprotein-reactive archived TILs (9 from cervical cancers and 7 from other cancers) displayed HPV-16/HPV-18 cross-reactivity. None of the 10 oncoprotein-reactive TCRs displayed HPV-16/HPV-18 cross-reactivity.

Conclusions and Relevance  Cervical cancers that tested positive for HPV-18 were common in this study and may be common in other US clinical trial populations. Results showed that HPV-16/HPV-18 intergenotype T-cell cross-reactivity of T cells from HPV-16–positive and HPV-18–positive cancers was uncommon. These findings support clinical trial designs in which the HPV type targeted by a therapeutic vaccine is matched with the HPV type of a cancer and suggest a change is necessary in the design of active clinical trials.

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Article Information

Accepted for Publication: April 23, 2018.

Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. © 2018 Helman SR et al. JAMA Network Open.

Corresponding Author: Christian S. Hinrichs, MD, National Cancer Institute, 10 Center Dr, 4B04, Bethesda, MD 20892 (hinrichs@mail.nih.gov).

Author Contributions: Dr Hinrichs had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: Helman, Stevanović, Campbell, Hinrichs.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: Helman, Stevanović, Kwong, Hinrichs.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: Kwong.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Stevanović, Doran.

Supervision: Stevanović, Hinrichs.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Hinrichs’ laboratory receives research funding through a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Kite Pharma unrelated to the work presented in this article. Dr Hinrichs is an inventor on NIH patents in the field of cellular therapy for cancer. Dr Stevanović is an inventor on NIH patents unrelated to the work presented in this article. No other disclosures were reported.

Funding/Support: This work was supported by the Center for Cancer Research intramural research program of the National Cancer Institute.

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The National Cancer Institute had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Additional Contributions: We thank the National Cancer Institute Surgery Branch tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte laboratory for generation of samples.

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