Modulation of myeloid and T cells in vivo by Bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitor ibrutinib in patients with metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Meenal Sinha, Courtney Betts, Li Zhang, Madeline J. Griffith, Isabelle Solman, Brandon Chen, Eric Liu, Whitney Tamaki, Jacob Stultz, Jaqueline Marquez, Shamilene Sivagnanam, Alexander Cheung, Denise Pener, Anne Fahlman, Erin Taber, Kimberly Lerner, Matthew Crocker, Kendra Todd, Brindha Rajagopalan, Clarisha WareMark Bridge, Johnson Vo, Hannah Dragomanovich, Julie Sudduth-Klinger, Gina Vaccaro, Charles D. Lopez, Margaret Tempero, Lisa M. Coussens, Lawrence Fong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: In preclinical studies of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), ibrutinib improved the antitumor efficacy of the standard of care chemotherapy. This led to a phase 1b clinical trial to determine the safety, tolerability, and immunologic effects of ibrutinib treatment in patients with advanced PDAC. METHODS: Previously untreated patients with PDAC were enrolled in a phase 1b clinical trial ( to determine the safety, toxicity, and maximal tolerated dose of ibrutinib when administered with the standard regimen of gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel. To study the immune response to ibrutinib alone, the trial included an immune response arm where patients were administered with ibrutinib daily for a week followed by ibrutinib combined with gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel. Endoscopic ultrasonography-guided primary PDAC tumor biopsies and blood were collected before and after ibrutinib monotherapy. Changes in abundance and functional state of immune cells in the blood was evaluated by mass cytometry by time of flight and statistical scaffold analysis, while that in the local tumor microenvironment (TME) were assessed by multiplex immunohistochemistry. Changes in B-cell receptor and T-cell receptor repertoire were assessed by sequencing and analysis of clonality. RESULTS: In the blood, ibrutinib monotherapy significantly increased the frequencies of activated inducible T cell costimulator+(ICOS+) CD4+ T cells and monocytes. Within the TME, ibrutinib monotherapy led to a trend in decreased B-cell abundance but increased interleukin-10+ B-cell frequency. Monotherapy also led to a trend in increased mature CD208+dendritic cell density, increased late effector (programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1-) eomesodermin (EOMES+)) CD8+ T-cell frequency, with a concomitantly decreased dysfunctional (PD-1+ EOMES+) CD8+ T-cell frequency. When ibrutinib was combined with chemotherapy, most of these immune changes were not observed. Patients with partial clinical responses had more diverse T and B cell receptor repertoires prior to therapy initiation. CONCLUSION: Ibrutinib monotherapy skewed the immune landscape both in the circulation and TME towards activated T cells, monocytes and DCs. These effects were not observed when combining ibrutinib with standard of care chemotherapy. Future studies may focus on other therapeutic combinations that augment the immunomodulatory effects of ibrutinib in solid tumors. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT02562898.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal for immunotherapy of cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • Immunomodulation
  • Immunotherapy
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Tumor Microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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