Transient mTOR inhibition rescues 4-1BB CAR-Tregs from tonic signal-induced dysfunction.

Lamarthée B, Marchal A, Charbonnier S, Blein T, Leon J, Martin E, Rabaux L, Vogt K, Titeux M, Delville M, Vinçon H, Six E, Pallet N, Michonneau D, Anglicheau D, Legendre C, Taupin JL, Nemazanyy I, Sawitzki B, Latour S, Cavazzana M, André I, Zuber J.

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Nat Commun

2021 Nov 8

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The use of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-engineered regulatory T cells (Tregs) has emerged as a promising strategy to promote immune tolerance. However, in conventional T cells (Tconvs), CAR expression is often associated with tonic signaling, which can induce CAR-T cell dysfunction. The extent and effects of CAR tonic signaling vary greatly according to the expression intensity and intrinsic properties of the CAR. Here, we show that the 4-1BB CSD-associated tonic signal yields a more dramatic effect in CAR-Tregs than in CAR-Tconvs with respect to activation and proliferation. Compared to CD28 CAR-Tregs, 4-1BB CAR-Tregs exhibit decreased lineage stability and reduced in vivo suppressive capacities. Transient exposure of 4-1BB CAR-Tregs to a Treg stabilizing cocktail, including an mTOR inhibitor and vitamin C, during ex vivo expansion sharply improves their in vivo function and expansion after adoptive transfer. This study demonstrates that the negative effects of 4-1BB tonic signaling in Tregs can be mitigated by transient mTOR inhibition.

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