ARTICLE ABSTRACTCancer immunotherapy has markedly improved the prognosis of patients with a broad variety of malignancies. However, benefits are weighed against unique toxicities, with immune-related adverse events (irAE) that are frequent and potentially life-threatening. The diagnosis and management of these events are challenging due to heterogeneity of timing onset, multiplicity of affected organs, and lack of non-invasive monitoring techniques. We demonstrate the use of a granzyme B–targeted PET imaging agent (GZP) for irAE identification in a murine model.
We generated a model of immunotherapy-induced adverse events in Foxp3–DTR–GFP mice bearing MC38 tumors. GZP PET imaging was performed to evaluate organs non-invasively. We validated imaging with ex vivo analysis, correlating the establishment of these events with the presence of immune infiltrates and granzyme B upregulation in tissue. To demonstrate the clinical relevance of our findings, the presence of granzyme B was identified through immunofluorescence staining in tissue samples of patients with confirmed checkpoint inhibitor–associated adverse events.
GZP PET imaging revealed differential uptake in organs affected by irAEs, such as colon, spleen, and kidney, which significantly diminished after administration of the immunosuppressor dexamethasone. The presence of granzyme B and immune infiltrates were confirmed histologically and correlated with significantly higher uptake in PET imaging. The presence of granzyme B was also confirmed in samples from patients that presented with clinical irAEs.
We demonstrate an interconnection between the establishment of irAEs and granzyme B presence and, for the first time, the visualization of those events through PET imaging.