Breast cancer has been considered not highly immunogenic, and few patients benefit from current immunotherapies. However, new strategies are aimed at changing this paradigm. In the present study, we examined the in vivo activity of a humanized anti-programmed cell death protein 1 (anti-PD-1) antibody against triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patient-derived xenograft (PDX) tumor models.
To circumvent some of the limitations posed by the lack of appropriate animal models in preclinical studies of immunotherapies, partially human leukocyte antigen-matched TNBC PDX tumor lines from our collection, as well as human melanoma cell lines, were engrafted in humanized nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency IL2Rγnull (hNSG) mice obtained by intravenous injection of CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells into nonlethally irradiated 3-4-week-old mice. After both PDXs and melanoma cell xenografts reached ~ 150-200 mm3, animals were treated with humanized anti-PD-1 antibody or anti-CTLA-4 and evaluated for tumor growth, survival, and potential mechanism of action.
Human CD45+, CD20+, CD3+, CD8+, CD56+, CD68+, and CD33+ cells were readily identified in blood, spleen, and bone marrow collected from hNSG, as well as human cytokines in blood and engrafted tumors. Engraftment of TNBC PDXs in hNSG was high (~ 85%), although they grew at a slightly slower pace and conserved their ability to generate lung metastasis. Human CD45+ cells were detectable in hNSG-harbored PDXs, and consistent with clinical observations, anti-PD-1 antibody therapy resulted in both a significant reduction in tumor growth and increased survival in some of the hNSG PDX tumor lines, whereas no such effects were observed in the corresponding non-hNSG models.
This study provides evidence associated with anti-PD-1 immunotherapy against TNBC tumors supporting the use of TNBC PDXs in humanized mice as a model to overcome some of the technical difficulties associated with the preclinical investigation of immune-based therapies.