Differential regulation of human monocytes and NK cells by antibody-opsonized tumors


Aurora Research Institute


The monocyte network is important for therapeutic efficacy of antibody therapies against cancer. One mechanism which monocytes/macrophages use to kill cancer cells is phagocytosis. Using trastuzumab and human breast cancer cell lines as a model, we used flow cytometry to evaluate the importance of avidity, antigen density, Fcγ receptor (FcγR) expression, and FcγR polymorphisms in human monocyte phagocytosis. By increasing avidity for the tumor through the addition of pertuzumab to trastuzumab, there was a two-to-threefold increase in phagocytosis potency against the HCC1419 cell line compared to antibodies alone, while NK cell-mediated antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) failed to increase tumor cell death. Consistent with increasing the avidity through multiple antibodies, antigen density significantly enhanced phagocytosis with breast cancer cell lines that were HER2 gene-amplified compared to non-amplified tumor cells. Confirmation that high antigen density enhanced phagocytosis was obtained when HER2 was overexpressed in HER2 non-amplified cell lines. In contrast, NK cell ADCC failed to distinguish differences in tumor cell death when comparing gene-amplified and non-amplified breast cancer cell lines. The level of phagocytosis was influenced by FcγRIIa and FcγRIIIa expression. Most monocytes are FcγRIIIa-, and the induction of the receptor significantly enhances antibody-dependent phagocytosis. Although both receptors are involved, when blocked FcγRIIIa had a greater influence on phagocytosis. Furthermore, the polymorphism FcγRIIIa 158V significantly enhanced phagocytosis; whereas FcγRIIa 131H polymorphism appeared to improve phagocytosis but was not statistically significant. Targeting of monocytes for enhanced phagocytosis may improve the effectiveness of therapeutic antibodies to improve clinical outcomes.

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