Erik Wennerberg

Karolinska Institutet, Solna, Stockholm, Sweden

Are you Erik Wennerberg?

Claim your profile

Publications (9)35.13 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Adoptive infusion of natural killer (NK) cells is being increasingly explored as a therapy in patients with cancer, although clinical responses are thus far limited to patients with hematological malignancies. Inadequate homing of infused NK cells to the tumor site represents a key factor that may explain the poor anti-tumor effect of NK cell therapy against solid tumors. One of the major players in the regulation of lymphocyte chemotaxis is the chemokine receptor chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor 3 (CXCR3) which is expressed on activated NK cells and induces NK cell migration toward gradients of the chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand (CXCL9, 10 and 11). Here, we show that ex vivo expansion of human NK cells results in a tenfold increased expression of the CXCR3 receptor compared with resting NK cells (p = 0.04). Consequently, these NK cells displayed an improved migratory capacity toward solid tumors, which was dependent on tumor-derived CXCL10. In xenograft models, adoptively transferred NK cells showed increased migration toward CXCL10-transfected melanoma tumors compared with CXCL10-negative wild-type tumors, resulting in significantly reduced tumor burden and increased survival (median survival 41 vs. 32 days, p = 0.03). Furthermore, administration of interferon-gamma locally in the tumor stimulated the production of CXCL10 in subcutaneous melanoma tumors resulting in increased infiltration of adoptively transferred CXCR3-positive expanded NK cells. Our findings demonstrate the importance of CXCL10-induced chemoattraction in the anti-tumor response of adoptively transferred expanded NK cells against solid melanoma tumors.
    Cancer immunology, immunotherapy : CII. 10/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Purpose: Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer with no curative therapies available. To date, strategies to target ATC by immunotherapy have not been evaluated. We investigated whether ATC would be a suitable target for NK-cell-based immunotherapy. Experimental Design: We first established 7 new cell lines from ATC tumors, 3 from PTC tumors and analyzed them together with 8 additional ATC cell lines. Cells were analyzed for sensitivity to lysis by NK cells and their ability to chemoattract and regulate the activity of NK cells. In addition, fresh tumor samples and peripheral blood from 6 ATC patients were analyzed for NK cell infiltration and phenotype. Results: We observed that ATC cell lines are sensitive to lysis by ex vivo expanded NK cells and that the lysis was abrogated upon blockade of NKG2D. Sensitivity of thyroid cancer cell lines to NK-cell-mediated lysis correlated with surface expression of UL16-binding protein 2 on tumor cells. Moreover, ATC cell lines produced high levels of CXCL10 and stimulated migration of expanded NK cells and ATC tumors were enriched for NK cells expressing the cognate chemokine receptor CXCR3. However, compared with NK cells in peripheral blood, ATC-tumor-derived NK cells displayed a suppressed phenotype with a down-regulated expression of NKG2D. In vitro, suppression of NK-cell-mediated lysis and NKG2D expression by ATC cells was restored upon neutralization of prostaglandin-E2. Conclusions: ATC cell lines are sensitive to NK-cell-mediated lysis via ULBP2/5/6 and chemoattract CXCR3-positive NK-cells. Patients with ATC may benefit from NK-cell-based immunotherapy.
    Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. 09/2014;
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Gap junctions (GJs) mediate intercellular communication between adjacent cells. Previously, we showed that connexin 43 (Cx43), the main GJ protein in the immune system, mediates Ag transfer between human dendritic cells (DCs) and is recruited to the immunological synapse during T cell priming. This crosstalk contributed to T cell activation, intracellular Ca(2+) responses, and cytokine release. However, the role of GJs in NK cell activation by DCs and NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity against tumor cells remains unknown. In this study, we found polarization of Cx43 at the NK/DC and NK/tumor cell-contact sites, accompanied by the formation of functional GJs between NK/DCs and NK/tumor cells, respectively. Cx43-GJ-mediated intercellular communication (GJIC) between human NK and DCs was bidirectional. Blockage of Cx43-GJIC inhibited NK cell activation, though it affected neither the phenotype nor the function of DCs. Cx43 knockdown or inhibition using mimetic peptides greatly reduced CD69 and CD25 expression and IFN-γ release by DC-stimulated NK cells. Moreover, blocking Cx43 strongly inhibited the NK cell-mediated tumor cell lysis associated with inhibition of granzyme B activity and Ca(2+) influx. Our data identify a novel and active role for Cx43-GJIC in human NK cell activation and antitumor effector functions that may be important for the design of new immune therapeutic strategies.
    The Journal of Immunology 12/2013; · 5.52 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The proteasome inhibitor bortezomib simultaneously renders tumor cells sensitive to killing by natural killer (NK) cells and resistant to killing by tumor-specific T cells. Here, we show that b-AP15, a novel inhibitor of proteasome deubiquitinating activity, sensitizes tumors to both NK and T cell-mediated killing. Exposure to b-AP15 significantly increased the susceptibility of tumor cell lines of various origins to NK (p < 0.0002) and T cell (p = 0.02)-mediated cytotoxicity. Treatment with b-AP15 resulted in increased tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) receptor-2 expression (p = 0.03) and decreased cFLIP expression in tumor cells in vitro. In tumor-bearing SCID/Beige mice, treatment with b-AP15 followed by infusion of either human NK cells or tumor-specific T cells resulted in a significantly delayed tumor progression compared with mice treated with NK cells (p = 0.006), T cells (p < 0.0001) or b-AP15 alone (p = 0.003). Combined infusion of NK and T cells in tumor-bearing BALB/c mice following treatment with b-AP15 resulted in a significantly prolonged long-term survival compared with mice treated with b-AP15 and NK or T cells (p ≤ 0.01). Our findings show that b-AP15-induced sensitization to TRAIL-mediated apoptosis could be used as a novel strategy to augment the anticancer effects of adoptively infused NK and T cells in patients with cancer.
    Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy 05/2013; · 3.64 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Tumors can suppress the host immune system by employing a variety of cellular immune modulators, such as regulatory T cells, tumor-associated macrophages and myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC). In the peripheral blood of advanced stage melanoma patients, there is an accumulation of CD14+HLA-DRlo/- MDSC that suppress autologous T cells ex vivo in a STAT-3-dependent manner. However, precise mechanistic basis underlying this effect is unclear, particularly with regard to whether the MDSC induction mechanism relies on cell-cell contact of melanoma cells with CD14+ cells. Here we show that early-passage human melanoma cells induce phenotypic changes in CD14+ monocytes, leading them to resemble MDSCs characterized in advanced stage melanoma patients. These MDSC-like cells potently suppress autologous T cell proliferation and IFN-γ production. Notably, induction of myeloid suppressive functions requires contact or close proximity between monocytes and tumor cells. Further, this induction is largely dependent on production of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) since its inhibition in these MDSC-like cells limits their ability to suppress T cell function. We confirmed our findings with CD14+ cells isolated from advanced stage melanoma patients, which inhibited autologous T cells in a manner relying up prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), STAT-3 and superoxide. Indeed, PGE2 was sufficient to confer to monocytes the ability to suppress proliferation and IFN-γ production by autologous T cells ex vivo. In summary, our results reveal how immune suppression by MDSC can be initiated in the tumor microenvironment of human melanoma.
    Cancer Research 04/2013; · 9.28 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Doxorubicin is an anthracycline antibiotic that is widely used to treat different types of malignancy. Here we studied whether doxorubicin could be used to render tumor cells susceptible to apoptosis by NK and T cells. Pretreatment with sub-apoptotic doses of doxorubicin sensitized tumor cell lines of various histotypes to both NK and T cells resulting in a 3.7 to 32.7 % increase in lysis (2.5 mean fold increase, p<0.0001) and 2.9 to 14.2 % increase in lysis (3.0 mean fold increase, p<0.05) respectively. The sensitizing effect of the drug was primarily dependent on TRAIL/TRAILR signaling, but not on Fas-ligand (FasL), perforin, NKG2D or DNAM-1. The central role of the TRAIL signaling pathway was further supported by an increased expression of TRAIL-R2 on doxorubicin-treated tumor cells and by down-regulation of cFLIP, the inhibitors of death receptor-mediated apoptosis. Compared to untreated cells, pretreatment of tumor cells with doxorubicin showed increased processing and activation of caspase-8 upon co-culture with NK or T cells. The significance of this treatment strategy was confirmed using a xenogeneic tumor-bearing mouse model. Tumor progression was delayed in mice that received either NK cells (p<0.05) or T cells (p<0.0001) following doxorubicin treatment compared to mice receiving either cell type alone. Moreover, combined infusion of both NK and T cells following doxorubicin treatment not only delayed tumor progression, but significantly improved the long-term survival (p<0.01). Based on these findings we propose that doxorubicin can be used to improve the efficacy of adoptive cell therapy in patients with cancer. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    International Journal of Cancer 03/2013; · 6.20 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Oncogenes have been traditionally viewed as molecular drivers for tumor growth and survival. Recent evidence indicates that oncogenes may facilitate the escape of malignant cells from immune recognition and elimination. In this article, we discuss the implications of the overexpression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family members on immune escape of tumors and immunotherapy.
    Oncoimmunology. 10/2012; 1(7):1200-1201.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphocytes that are able to directly kill tumor cells through different mechanisms including ligation of TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) receptors. Zoledronic acid (ZA) is a bisphosphonate known to up-regulate the expression of TRAIL on human γδ T cells. Here we investigated whether exposure to ZA would up-regulate TRAIL expression on human NK cells and augment their cytotoxicity against tumor cells. When co-cultured with monocytes, treatment with ZA and IL-2 resulted in a significant up-regulation of TRAIL expression on human NK cells (p = 0.002). Consequently, ZA-primed NK cells were significantly more cytotoxic against TRAIL sensitive tumor cells (p<0.0001). In the presence of ZA and IL-2, monocytes produced high levels of IFN-γ; when cultured in the presence of neutralizing antibodies to IFN-γ, TRAIL expression and TRAIL-mediated cytotoxicity of NK cells were significantly reduced. Furthermore, in tumor-bearing SCID/Beige mice, a significant delayed tumor progression and prolonged survival was observed after infusion of ZA-primed NK cells compared with that observed in mice infused with unprimed NK cells. These findings represent a novel approach to potentiate TRAIL-mediated apoptosis by adoptively infused NK cells that could improve the outcome in patients with cancer.
    European Journal of Immunology 09/2012; · 4.97 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Overexpression of the receptor tyrosine kinases HER2 and HER3 is associated with a poor prognosis in several types of cancer. Presently, HER2- as well as HER3-targeted therapies are in clinical practice or evaluated within clinical trials, including treatment with mAbs mediating growth inhibition and/or activation of Ab-induced innate or adaptive cellular immunity. A better understanding of how HER2/HER3 signaling in tumors influences cellular immune mechanisms is therefore warranted. In this study, we demonstrate that HER2/HER3 signaling regulates the expression of MHC class I-related chain A and B (MICA and MICB) in breast cancer cell lines. The MICA and MICB (MICA/B) molecules act as key ligands for the activating receptor NK group 2, member D (NKG2D) and promote NK cell-mediated recognition and cytolysis. Genetic silencing of HER3 but not HER2 downregulated the expression of MICA/B, and HER3 overexpression significantly enhanced MICA expression. Among the major pathways activated by HER2/HER3 signaling, the PI3K/AKT pathway was shown to predominantly regulate MICA/B expression. Treatment with the HER3-specific ligand neuregulin 1β promoted the expression in a process that was antagonized by pharmacological and genetic interference with HER3 but not by the ataxia-telangiectasia-mutated (ATM) and ATM and Rad3-related protein kinases inhibitor caffeine. These observations further emphasize that HER2/HER3 signaling directly, and not via genotoxic stress, regulates MICA/B expression. As anticipated, stimulating HER2/HER3 enhanced the NKG2D-MICA/B-dependent NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Taken together, we conclude that signaling via the HER2/HER3 pathway in breast carcinoma cell lines may lead to enhanced NKG2D-MICA/B recognition by NK cells and T cells.
    The Journal of Immunology 03/2012; 188(5):2136-45. · 5.52 Impact Factor