Targeted radionuclide therapy (TRT) using targeting moieties labeled with α-particle-emitting radionuclides (α-TRT) is an intensely investigated treatment approach as the short range of α-particles allows effective treatment of local lesions and micrometastases. However, profound assessment of the immunomodulatory effect of α-TRT is lacking in literature. Methods: Using flow cytometry of tumors, splenocyte restimulation, and multiplex analysis of blood serum, we studied immunologic responses ensuing from TRT with an antihuman CD20 single-domain antibody radiolabeled with 225Ac in a human CD20 and ovalbumin expressing B16-melanoma model. Results: Tumor growth was delayed with α-TRT and increased blood levels of various cytokines such as interferon-γ, C-C motif chemokine ligand 5, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. Peripheral antitumoral T-cell responses were detected on α-TRT. At the tumor site, α-TRT modulated the cold tumor microenvironment (TME) to a more hospitable and hot habitat for antitumoral immune cells, characterized by a decrease in protumoral alternatively activated macrophages and an increase in antitumoral macrophages and dendritic cells. We also showed that α-TRT increased the percentage of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1)-positive (PD-L1pos) immune cells in the TME. To circumvent this immunosuppressive countermeasure we applied immune checkpoint blockade of the programmed cell death protein 1-PD-L1 axis. Combination of α-TRT with PD-L1 blockade potentiated the therapeutic effect, however, the combination aggravated adverse events. A long-term toxicity study revealed severe kidney damage ensuing from α-TRT. Conclusion: These data suggest that α-TRT alters the TME and induces systemic antitumoral immune responses, which explains why immune checkpoint blockade enhances the therapeutic effect of α-TRT. However, further optimization is warranted to avoid adverse events.
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© 2023 by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.
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- radionuclide therapy
- single-domain antibody