Expression of LAG-3 defines exhaustion of intratumoral PD-1+ T cells and correlates with poor outcome in follicular lymphoma

Zhi Zhang Yang, Hyo Jin Kim, Jose (J.C.) Villasboas Bisneto, Ya Ping Chen, Tammy P. Price-Troska, Shahrzad Jalali, Mara Wilson, Anne J Novak, Stephen Maxted Ansell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Exhausted T-cells in follicular lymphoma (FL) typically express PD-1, but expression of PD-1 is not limited to exhausted cells. Although expected to be functionally suppressed, we found that the population of intratumoral PD-1+ T cells were predominantly responsible for production of cytokines and granules. This surprising finding prompted us to explore the involvement of LAG-3 to specifically identify functionally exhausted T cells. We found that LAG-3 was expressed on a subset of intratumoral T cells from FL and LAG-3+ T cells almost exclusively came from PD-1+ population. CyTOF analysis revealed that intratumoral LAG-3+ T cells were phenotypically heterogeneous as LAG-3 was expressed on a variety of T cell subsets. In contrast to PD-1+LAG-3- cells, intratumoral PD-1+LAG-3+ T cells exhibited reduced capacity to produce cytokines and granules. LAG-3 expression could be substantially upregulated on CD4+ or CD8+ T cells by IL-12, a cytokine that has been shown to induce T-cell exhaustion and be increased in the serum of lymphoma patients. Furthermore, we found that blockade of both PD-1 and LAG-3 signaling enhanced the function of intratumoral CD8+ T cells resulting in increased IFN-γ and IL-2 production. Clinically, LAG-3 expression on intratumoral T cells correlated with a poor outcome in FL patients. Taken together, we find that LAG-3 expression is necessary to identify the population of intratumoral PD-1+ T cells that are functionally exhausted and, in contrast, find that PD-1+LAG-3- T cells are simply activated cells that are immunologically functional. These findings may have important implications for immune checkpoint therapy in FL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61425-61439
Number of pages15
JournalOncotarget
Volume8
Issue number37
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

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Follicular Lymphoma
T-Lymphocytes
Cytokines
Population
T-Cell Lymphoma
T-Lymphocyte Subsets
Interleukin-12
Interleukin-2
Lymphoma

Keywords

  • Follicular lymphoma
  • Immune checkpoint
  • LAG-3
  • PD-1
  • T-cell exhaustion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

Cite this

Expression of LAG-3 defines exhaustion of intratumoral PD-1+ T cells and correlates with poor outcome in follicular lymphoma. / Yang, Zhi Zhang; Kim, Hyo Jin; Villasboas Bisneto, Jose (J.C.); Chen, Ya Ping; Price-Troska, Tammy P.; Jalali, Shahrzad; Wilson, Mara; Novak, Anne J; Ansell, Stephen Maxted.

In: Oncotarget, Vol. 8, No. 37, 01.09.2017, p. 61425-61439.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Yang, Zhi Zhang ; Kim, Hyo Jin ; Villasboas Bisneto, Jose (J.C.) ; Chen, Ya Ping ; Price-Troska, Tammy P. ; Jalali, Shahrzad ; Wilson, Mara ; Novak, Anne J ; Ansell, Stephen Maxted. / Expression of LAG-3 defines exhaustion of intratumoral PD-1+ T cells and correlates with poor outcome in follicular lymphoma. In: Oncotarget. 2017 ; Vol. 8, No. 37. pp. 61425-61439.
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AU - Yang, Zhi Zhang

AU - Kim, Hyo Jin

AU - Villasboas Bisneto, Jose (J.C.)

AU - Chen, Ya Ping

AU - Price-Troska, Tammy P.

AU - Jalali, Shahrzad

AU - Wilson, Mara

AU - Novak, Anne J

AU - Ansell, Stephen Maxted

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AB - Exhausted T-cells in follicular lymphoma (FL) typically express PD-1, but expression of PD-1 is not limited to exhausted cells. Although expected to be functionally suppressed, we found that the population of intratumoral PD-1+ T cells were predominantly responsible for production of cytokines and granules. This surprising finding prompted us to explore the involvement of LAG-3 to specifically identify functionally exhausted T cells. We found that LAG-3 was expressed on a subset of intratumoral T cells from FL and LAG-3+ T cells almost exclusively came from PD-1+ population. CyTOF analysis revealed that intratumoral LAG-3+ T cells were phenotypically heterogeneous as LAG-3 was expressed on a variety of T cell subsets. In contrast to PD-1+LAG-3- cells, intratumoral PD-1+LAG-3+ T cells exhibited reduced capacity to produce cytokines and granules. LAG-3 expression could be substantially upregulated on CD4+ or CD8+ T cells by IL-12, a cytokine that has been shown to induce T-cell exhaustion and be increased in the serum of lymphoma patients. Furthermore, we found that blockade of both PD-1 and LAG-3 signaling enhanced the function of intratumoral CD8+ T cells resulting in increased IFN-γ and IL-2 production. Clinically, LAG-3 expression on intratumoral T cells correlated with a poor outcome in FL patients. Taken together, we find that LAG-3 expression is necessary to identify the population of intratumoral PD-1+ T cells that are functionally exhausted and, in contrast, find that PD-1+LAG-3- T cells are simply activated cells that are immunologically functional. These findings may have important implications for immune checkpoint therapy in FL.

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