Purpose: Treatment of melanoma patients with selective BRAF inhibitors results in objective clinical responses in the majority of patients with BRAF-mutant tumors. However, resistance to these inhibitors develops within a few months. In this study, we test the hypothesis that BRAF inhibition in combination with adoptive T-cell transfer (ACT) will be more effective at inducing long-term clinical regressions of BRAFmutant tumors. Experimental Design: BRAF-mutated human melanoma tumor cell lines transduced to express gp100 and H-2Db to allow recognition by gp100-specific pmel-1 T cells were used as xenograft models to assess melanocyte differentiation antigen-independent enhancement of immune responses by BRAF inhibitor PLX4720. Luciferase-expressing pmel-1 T cells were generated to monitor T-cell migration in vivo. The expression of VEGF was determined by ELISA, protein array, and immunohistochemistry. Importantly, VEGF expression after BRAF inhibition was tested in a set of patient samples. Results: We found that administration of PLX4720 significantly increased tumor infiltration of adoptively transferred T cells in vivo and enhanced the antitumor activity of ACT. This increased T-cell infiltration was primarily mediated by the ability of PLX4720 to inhibit melanoma tumor cell production of VEGF by reducing the binding of c-myc to the VEGF promoter. Furthermore, analysis of human melanoma patient tumor biopsies before and during BRAF inhibitor treatment showed downregulation of VEGF consistent with the preclinical murine model. Conclusion: These findings provide a strong rationale to evaluate the potential clinical application of combining BRAF inhibition with T-cell-based immunotherapy for the treatment of patients with melanoma.
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