Primate Monocytes - CD14, CD16 - Ziegler-Heitbrock


CD137 (4-1BB) stimulation leads to metabolic and functional reprogramming of human monocytes/macrophages enhancing their tumoricidal activity.


Immunotherapies have heralded a new era in the cancer treatment. In addition to checkpoint inhibitors, agonistic antibodies against co-stimulatory immune receptors hold the potential to invoke efficient antitumor immunity. Targeting CD137 has gained momentum based on its ability to drive NK- and T-cell-based responses. CD137-engaging mAbs have already entered clinical trials for different types of tumors showing promising results. Despite the efforts to translate CD137-mediated immunotherapy into clinical practice, little remains known regarding the role of CD137 in human monocytes/macrophages.We found CD137 being expressed on monocytes of healthy controls and at even higher levels in patients with multiple myeloma or CLL. CD137HI(GH) monocytes displayed a distinct phenotypic, transcriptomic, and metabolic profile. They possessed an increased phagocytic capacity enabling superior antibody-dependent phagocytosis (ADPC) of multiple myeloma and lymphoma cells that were treated with anti-CD38 or anti-CD20 mAbs. Triggering CD137 promoted both metabolic and tumoricidal activity in an extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-dependent fashion. In addition, we observed a phenotypic, transcriptomic, and functional skewing towards a M1-like phenotype.Overall, we introduce CD137 as a positive immune checkpoint on human monocytes/macrophages, which can have therapeutic implications especially in view of synergistic effects when combining CD137 agonists with tumor-targeting antibodies.

Authors: Stoll A, Bruns H, Fuchs M, Völkl S, Nimmerjahn F, Kunz M, Peipp M, Mackensen A, Mougiakakos D,
Journal: Leukemia; 2021 Dec;35(12):3482-3496. doi:10.1038/s41375-021-01287-1
Year: 2021
PubMed: PMID: 34021248 (Go to PubMed)