Investigating mechanisms for Elotuzumab and Lenalidomide therapy in Multiple Myeloma
AuthorRichardson, Kelden James
AffiliationSir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2023-11-05. This item is currently available to University of Melbourne staff and students only, login required.
© 2021 Kelden James Richardson
Multiple myeloma (MM) is a haematological malignancy of plasma cells with disease present in the bone marrow. Despite the success of new therapies in extending life expectancy, MM is still considered incurable and requires further investigation into new treatments. In the context of refractory/relapsed MM (RRMM), the combination of the two immunotherapies Elotuzumab (Elo, anti-SLAMF7 mAb) and Lenalidomide (Len, IMiD) has resulted in an 82% objective response rate and 16% complete remission in patients. This success led to FDA approval of Elo plus Len treatment for patients with RRMM and has warranted further investigations into the exact mechanism of action. Elo targets SLAMF7 antigen which is highly expressed on MM tumour cells and activates NK cells for antibody dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) resulting in MM tumour cell death. Len is an immunomodulatory agent commonly used to treat a wide range of haematological cancers. Len has been shown to activate various cells of the immune system as well as directly suppress tumour progression. This thesis aims to identify how the mechanisms of Len intersect with, and enhance, Elo activated NK cell control of tumours. The work from this thesis revealed that to induce ADCC, Elo required both expression of SLAMF7 on MM target cells and NK cell CD16 engagement. Elo-activated NK cells had increased expression of CD107a and CD69, as well as loss of CD16 expression which was a result of ADAM17 induced cleavage. Elo activation of NK cells also secreted increased levels of cytokines and chemokines associated with recruitment of effector immune cells. In both in-vitro and in-vivo studies, Len significantly enhanced Elo-induced healthy donor NK cell killing of MM tumour cells. In contrast, only 4/12 RRMM patient (responders) NK cells induced increased MM cell killing in the context of Elo plus Len. Important for this increased cytotoxicity was the expression of CD54 on NK cells that allowed differentiation between these responder and non-responder patients. CD54 was also more highly expressed on NK cells activated by Elo plus Len compared to Elo activation alone. However, further phenotypic studies and RNA sequencing did not reveal any further mechanisms in NK cells by which Len enhances Elo activation. Further studies revealed that MM tumour (myeloma) cells specifically upregulated CD54 and CD11a expression in response to Elo plus Len activation of NK cells and this did not occur with Elo treatment alone. This increase in CD54/CD11a expression on myeloma cells was also dependent on the presence of CD14+ monocytes. RNA sequencing also revealed enrichment of cytokine and chemokine signalling/secretion pathways in MM cells specifically in the context of Elo and Len activated NK cells and monocytes. In conclusion, these data indicate that a complex network of direct and indirect mechanisms between NK cells, monocytes and myeloma cells contribute to the Elo plus Len treatment induced response in RRMM patients. Elo alone activates NK cells and monocytes, whereas the Len effect is largely on myeloma cells. Collectively the two treatments led to robust myeloma antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). There was a strong correlation between increased myeloma cell CD54/CD11a expression and myeloma cell ADCC suggesting that stabilisation of the immune synapse with strong adhesion may be a key factor for this improved myeloma cell killing. Finally, this study revealed that upregulation of MM cell CD54 expression on MM cells may be a useful predictive biomarker to stratify RRMM patients for Elo plus Len therapy.
KeywordsCancer; Oncology; Immunotherapy; Multiple Myeloma; Refractory relapsed multiple myeloma; Elotuzumab; SLAMF7; Lenalidomide; Natural killer cell; Monocyte; Mechanism of action
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