Agonistic anti-CD40 monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy in combination with chemotherapy (chemoimmunotherapy) shows promise for the treatment of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA). To gain insight into immunological mechanisms of response and resistance to chemoimmunotherapy, we analyzed blood samples from patients (n = 22) with advanced PDA treated with an anti-CD40 mAb (CP-870,893) in combination with gemcitabine. We found a stereotyped cellular response to chemoimmunotherapy characterized by transient B cell, CD56+CD11c+HLA-DR+CD141+ cell, and monocyte depletion and CD4+ T cell activation. However, these cellular pharmacodynamics did not associate with outcomes. In contrast, we identified an inflammatory network in the peripheral blood consisting of neutrophils, cytokines (IL-6 and IL-8), and acute phase reactants (C-reactive protein and serum amyloid A) that was associated with outcomes. Furthermore, monocytes from patients with elevated plasma IL-6 and IL-8 showed distinct transcriptional profiles, including upregulation of CCR2 and GAS6, genes associated with regulation of leukocyte chemotaxis and response to inflammation. Patients with systemic inflammation, defined by neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio (NLR) greater than 3.1, had a shorter median overall survival (5.8 vs. 12.3 months) as compared with patients with NLR less than 3.1. Taken together, our findings identify systemic inflammation as a potential resistance mechanism to a CD40-based chemoimmunotherapy and suggest biomarkers for future studies.
Max M. Wattenberg, Veronica M. Herrera, Michael A. Giannone, Whitney L. Gladney, Erica L. Carpenter, Gregory L. Beatty