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Volume 3 Supplement 2

30th Annual Meeting and Associated Programs of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC 2015)

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Precursor B cell all induces irreversible T cell dysfunction not solely dependent on TCR signaling


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common childhood malignancy. With modern risk adapted multimodality therapy, the cure rates for pediatric ALL have reached approximately 90%, but leukemia remains the leading cause of cancer-related death in children and outcomes for patients who relapse have not changed substantially over recent decades. Immunotherapy with donor lymphocyte infusions for ALL has inferior responses compared to other hematologic cancer types suggestive of challenges inherent to immunologic targeting of ALL. Blockage of immune checkpoint has led to advances in treatment of solid tumors in clinic, but has not been fully studied in leukemia models.


Using a transplantable murine model derived from E2A-PBX1 transgenic mice we studied the impact of ALL progression on T cell function in vivo, and also the implication of the blockage of the immune checkpoints.


Vaccination protects mice against E2a-PBX1.3 and requires T cells and NK cells. However, therapeutic vaccination after ALL challenge is ineffective even when administered early at a low disease burden. Adoptive transfer of primed T cells from immunized donors can completely eradicate the leukemia blast. Unfortunately, T cells from leukemic mice fail to protect against E2a-PBX1.3 following adoptive transfer. T cells from leukemic mice express the programmed death receptor 1 (PD1) with progressive accumulation of additional markers of T cell dysfunction including LAG-3, and Tim-3. Furthermore, the expression of PD-1 on the T cell from the tumor bearing mice is not solely dependent on the TCR signaling. T cells from the bone marrow of children with ALL also contained large numbers of PD1+ T cells. Blockade of PD1 or its ligand, PDL1, were ineffective at preventing E2aPBX1.3 progression. Finally, expression of a chimeric antigen receptor targeting CD19 in T cells from leukemic mice fails to restore function while the T cells from naïve mice can completely cure the receipts.


These findings have important implications for the optimization of immunotherapy for ALL including adoptive cell therapies utilizing CAR-expressing T cells when generated from donors with leukemia.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Qin, H., Su, P., Burk, C.R. et al. Precursor B cell all induces irreversible T cell dysfunction not solely dependent on TCR signaling. j. immunotherapy cancer 3 (Suppl 2), P45 (2015).

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