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A single-cell map of intratumoral changes during anti-PD1 treatment of patients with breast cancer (Cohort 2 - All)
Ayse Bassez, Hanne Vos, Laurien Van Dyck, Giuseppe Floris, Ingrid Arijs, Christine Desmedt, Bram Boeckx, Marlies Vanden Bempt, Ines Nevelsteen, Kathleen Lambein, Kevin Punie, Patrick Neven, Abhishek D. Garg, Hans Wildiers, Junbin Qian, Ann Smeets, Diether Lambrechts
Immune-checkpoint blockade (ICB) combined with neoadjuvant chemotherapy improves pathological complete response in breast cancer. To understand why only a subset of tumors respond to ICB, patients with hormone receptor-positive or triple-negative breast cancer were treated with anti-PD1 before surgery. Paired pre- versus on-treatment biopsies from treatment-naive patients receiving anti-PD1 (n = 29) or patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy before anti-PD1 (n = 11) were subjected to single-cell transcriptome, T cell receptor and proteome profiling. One-third of tumors contained PD1-expressing T cells, which clonally expanded upon anti-PD1 treatment, irrespective of tumor subtype. Expansion mainly involved CD8+ T cells with pronounced expression of cytotoxic-activity (PRF1, GZMB), immune-cell homing (CXCL13) and exhaustion markers (HAVCR2, LAG3), and CD4+ T cells characterized by expression of T-helper-1 (IFNG) and follicular-helper (BCL6, CXCR5) markers. In pre-treatment biopsies, the relative frequency of immunoregulatory dendritic cells (PD-L1+), specific macrophage phenotypes (CCR2+ or MMP9+) and cancer cells exhibiting major histocompatibility complex class I/II expression correlated positively with T cell expansion. Conversely, undifferentiated pre-effector/memory T cells (TCF7+, GZMK+) or inhibitory macrophages (CX3CR1+, C3+) were inversely correlated with T cell expansion. Collectively, our data identify various immunophenotypes and associated gene sets that are positively or negatively correlated with T cell expansion following anti-PD1 treatment. We shed light on the heterogeneity in treatment response to anti-PD1 in breast cancer.