In early-stage breast cancer, the degree of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) predicts response to chemotherapy and overall survival. Combination immunotherapy with immune checkpoint antibody plus tumor cryoablation can induce lymphocytic infiltrates and improve survival in mice. We used T-cell receptor (TCR) DNA sequencing to evaluate both the effect of cryoimmunotherapy in humans and the feasibility of TCR sequencing in early-stage breast cancer. In a pilot clinical trial, 18 women with early-stage breast cancer were treated preoperatively with cryoablation, single-dose anti–CTLA-4 (ipilimumab), or cryoablation + ipilimumab. TCRs within serially collected peripheral blood and tumor tissue were sequenced. In baseline tumor tissues, T-cell density as measured by TCR sequencing correlated with TIL scores obtained by hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining. However, tumors with little or no lymphocytes by H&E contained up to 3.6 × 106 TCR DNA sequences, highlighting the sensitivity of the ImmunoSEQ platform. In this dataset, ipilimumab increased intratumoral T-cell density over time, whereas cryoablation ± ipilimumab diversified and remodeled the intratumoral T-cell clonal repertoire. Compared with monotherapy, cryoablation plus ipilimumab was associated with numerically greater numbers of peripheral blood and intratumoral T-cell clones expanding robustly following therapy. In conclusion, TCR sequencing correlates with H&E lymphocyte scoring and provides additional information on clonal diversity. These findings support further study of the use of TCR sequencing as a biomarker for T-cell responses to therapy and for the study of cryoimmunotherapy in early-stage breast cancer. Cancer Immunol Res; 4(10); 835–44. ©2016 AACR.
- Received February 2, 2016.
- Revision received July 19, 2016.
- Accepted August 3, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.