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Specificity of the T Cell Response to Protein Biopharmaceuticals

Authors
  • Meunier, Sylvain
  • de Bourayne, Marie
  • Hamze, Moustafa
  • Azam, Aurélien
  • Correia, Evelyne
  • Menier, Catherine
  • Maillère, Bernard
Type
Published Article
Journal
Frontiers in Immunology
Publisher
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Jul 22, 2020
Volume
11
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.01550
PMID: 32793213
PMCID: PMC7387651
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

The anti-drug antibody (ADA) response is an undesired humoral response raised against protein biopharmaceuticals (BPs) which can dramatically disturb their therapeutic properties. One particularity of the ADA response resides in the nature of the immunogens, which are usually human(ized) proteins and are therefore expected to be tolerated. CD4 T cells initiate, maintain and regulate the ADA response and are therefore key players of this immune response. Over the last decade, advances have been made in characterizing the T cell responses developed by patients treated with BPs. Epitope specificity and phenotypes of BP-specific T cells have been reported and highlight the effector and regulatory roles of T cells in the ADA response. BP-specific T cell responses are assessed in healthy subjects to anticipate the immunogenicity of BP prior to their testing in clinical trials. Immunogenicity prediction, also called preclinical immunogenicity assessment, aims at identifying immunogenic BPs and immunogenic BP sequences before any BP injection in humans. All of the approaches that have been developed to date rely on the detection of BP-specific T cells in donors who have never been exposed to BPs. The number of BP-specific T cells circulating in the blood of these donors is therefore limited. T cell assays using cells collected from healthy donors might reveal the weak tolerance induced by BPs, whose endogenous form is expressed at a low level. These BPs have a complete human sequence, but the level of their endogenous form appears insufficient to promote the negative selection of autoreactive T cell clones. Multiple T cell epitopes have also been identified in therapeutic antibodies and some other BPs. The pattern of identified T cell epitopes differs across the antibodies, notwithstanding their humanized, human or chimeric nature. However, in all antibodies, the non-germline amino acid sequences mainly found in the CDRs appear to be the main driver of immunogenicity, provided they can be presented by HLA class II molecules. Considering the fact that the BP field is expanding to include new formats and gene and cell therapies, we face new challenges in understanding and mastering the immunogenicity of new biological products.

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