Fibroblast activation protein (FAP) is a candidate universal target antigen because it has been reported to be selectively expressed in nearly all solid tumors by a subset of immunosuppressive tumor stromal fibroblasts. We verified that 18/18 human tumors of various histologies contained pronounced stromal elements staining strongly for FAP, and hypothesized that targeting tumor stroma with FAP-reactive T cells would inhibit tumor growth in cancer-bearing hosts. T cells genetically engineered with FAP-reactive chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) specifically degranulated and produced effector cytokines upon stimulation with FAP or FAP-expressing cell lines. However, adoptive transfer of FAP-reactive T cells into mice bearing a variety of subcutaneous tumors mediated limited antitumor effects and induced significant cachexia and lethal bone toxicities in two mouse strains. We found that FAP was robustly expressed on PDGFR-α+, Sca-1+ multipotent bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) in mice, as well as on well-characterized, clinical-grade multipotent human BMSCs. Accordingly, both mouse and human multipotent BMSCs were recognized by FAP-reactive T cells. The lethal bone toxicity and cachexia observed after cell-based immunotherapy targeting FAP cautions against its use as a universal target. Moreover, the expression of FAP by multipotent BMSCs may point toward the cellular origins of tumor stromal fibroblasts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy