In a recent adoptive cell therapy (ACT) clinical trial using autologous tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in patients with metastatic melanoma, we found an association between CD8+ T cells expressing the inhibitory receptor B- and T-lymphocyte attenuator (BTLA) and clinical response. Here, we further characterized this CD8+BTLA+ TIL subset and their CD8+BTLA− counterparts. We found that the CD8+ BTLA+ TILs had an increased response to IL-2, were less-differentiated effector-memory (TEM) cells, and persisted longer in vivo after infusion. In contrast, CD8+BTLA− TILs failed to proliferate and expressed genes associated with T-cell deletion/tolerance. Paradoxically, activation of BTLA signaling by its ligand, herpes virus entry mediator (HVEM), inhibited T-cell division and cytokine production, but also activated the Akt/PKB pathway thus protecting CD8+BTLA+ TILs from apoptosis. Our results point to a new role of BTLA as a useful T-cell differentiation marker in ACT and a dual signaling molecule that curtails T-cell activation while also conferring a survival advantage for CD8+ T cells. These attributes may explain our previous observation that BTLA expression on CD8+ TILs correlates with clinical response to adoptive T-cell therapy in metastatic melanoma.
- B- and T-lymphocyte attenuator
- CD8<sup>+</sup> effector-memory
- T cell survival/persistence
- tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy