The HER2-specific monoclonal antibody (mAb), trastuzumab, has been the mainstay of therapy for HER2+ breast cancer (BC) for approximately 20 years. However, its therapeutic mechanism of action (MOA) remains unclear, with antitumor responses to trastuzumab remaining heterogeneous and metastatic HER2+ BC remaining incurable. Consequently, understanding its MOA could enable rational strategies to enhance its efficacy. Using both murine and human versions of trastuzumab, we found its antitumor activity dependent on Fcγ receptor stimulation of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) and antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis (ADCP), but not cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). Trastuzumab also stimulated TAM activation and expansion, but did not require adaptive immunity, natural killer cells, and/or neutrophils. Moreover, inhibition of the innate immune ADCP checkpoint, CD47, significantly enhanced trastuzumab-mediated ADCP and TAM expansion and activation, resulting in the emergence of a unique hyperphagocytic macrophage population, improved antitumor responses, and prolonged survival. In addition, we found that tumor-associated CD47 expression was inversely associated with survival in HER2+ BC patients and that human HER2+ BC xenografts treated with trastuzumab plus CD47 inhibition underwent complete tumor regression. Collectively, our study identifies trastuzumab-mediated ADCP as an important antitumor MOA that may be clinically enabled by CD47 blockade to augment therapeutic efficacy.


Li-Chung Tsao, Erika J. Crosby, Timothy N. Trotter, Pankaj Agarwal, Bin-Jin Hwang, Chaitanya Acharya, Casey W. Shuptrine, Tao Wang, Junping Wei, Xiao Yang, Gangjun Lei, Cong-Xiao Liu, Christopher A. Rabiola, Lewis A. Chodosh, William J. Muller, Herbert Kim Lyerly, Zachary C. Hartman


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