Neoadjuvant PROSTVAC prior to radical prostatectomy enhances T-cell infiltration into the tumor immune microenvironment in men with prostate cancer

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer








clinical trials as topic; immunotherapy, active; tumor microenvironment; urologic neoplasms; vaccination


© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. Background Clinical trials have shown the ability of therapeutic vaccines to generate immune responses to tumor-associated antigens (TAAs). What is relatively less known is if this translates into immune-cell (IC) infiltration into the tumor microenvironment. This study examined whether neoadjuvant prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-targeted vaccination with PROSTVAC could induce T-cell immunity, particularly at the tumor site. Methods An open-label, phase II study of neoadjuvant PROSTVAC vaccine enrolled 27 patients with localized prostate cancer awaiting radical prostatectomy (RP). We evaluated increases in CD4 and CD8 T-cell infiltrates (RP tissue vs baseline biopsies) using a six-color multiplex immunofluorescence Opal method. Antigen-specific responses were assessed by intracellular cytokine staining after in vitro stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with overlapping 15-mer peptide pools encoding the TAAs PSA, brachyury and MUC-1. Results Of 27 vaccinated patients, 26 had matched prevaccination (biopsy) and postvaccination (RP) prostate samples available for non-compartmentalized analysis (NCA) and compartmentalized analysis (CA). Tumor CD4 T-cell infiltrates were significantly increased in postvaccination RP specimens compared with baseline biopsies by NCA (median 176/mm2 vs 152/mm2 IQR 136-317/mm2 vs 69-284/mm2 p=0.0249; median ratio 1.20; IQR 0.64-2.25). By CA, an increase in both CD4 T-cell infiltrates at the tumor infiltrative margin (median 198/mm2 vs 151/mm2 IQR 123-500/mm2 vs 85-256/mm2 p=0.042; median ratio 1.44; IQR 0.59-4.17) and in CD8 T-cell infiltrates at the tumor core (median 140/mm2 vs 105/mm2 IQR 91-175/mm2 vs 83-163/mm2 p=0.036; median ratio 1.25; IQR 0.88-2.09) were noted in postvaccination RP specimens compared with baseline biopsies. A total of 13/25 patients (52%) developed peripheral T-cell responses to any of the three tested TAAs (non-neoantigens); five of these had responses to more than one antigen of the three evaluated. Conclusion Neoadjuvant PROSTVAC can induce both tumor immune response and peripheral immune response. Trial registration number NCT02153918.

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