Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is characterized by its highly immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) that limits T cell infiltration and induces T cell hypofunction. Mesothelin-redirected chimeric antigen receptor T cell (meso-CAR T cell) therapy has shown some efficacy in clinical trials but antitumor efficacy remains modest. We hypothesized that combined meso-CAR T cells with an oncolytic adenovirus expressing TNF-α and IL-2 (Ad5/3-E2F-D24-TNFa-IRES-IL2, or OAd-TNFa-IL2) would improve efficacy. OAd-TNFa-IL2 enhanced the antitumor efficacy of meso-CAR T cells in human-PDA-xenograft immunodeficient mice and efficacy was associated with robustly increased tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), enhanced and prolonged T cell function. Mice treated with parental OAd combined with meso-CAR T developed tumor metastasis to the lungs even if primary tumors were controlled. However, no mice treated with combined OAd-TNFa-IL2 and meso-CAR T died of tumor metastasis. We also evaluated this approach in a syngeneic mouse tumor model by combining adenovirus expressing murine TNF-α and IL-2 (Ad-mTNFa-mIL2) and mouse CAR T cells. This approach induced significant tumor regression in mice engrafted with highly aggressive and immunosuppressive PDA tumors. Ad-mTNFa-mIL2 increased both CAR T cell and host T cell infiltration to the tumor and altered host tumor immune status with M1 polarization of macrophages and increased dendritic cell maturation. These findings indicate that combining cytokine-armed oncolytic adenovirus to enhance the efficacy of CAR T cell therapy is a promising approach to overcome the immunosuppressive TME for the treatment of PDA.


Keisuke Watanabe, Yanping Luo, Tong Da, Sonia Guedan, Marco Ruella, John Scholler, Brian Keith, Regina M. Young, Boris Engels, Suvi Sorsa, Mikko Siurala, Riikka Havunen, Siri Tähtinen, Akseli Hemminki, Carl H. June


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