Integrated functional and spatial profiling of tumour immune responses induced by immunotherapy: the iPROFILER platform.

Koelzer, V H; Herzig, P; Zlobec, Inti; Heinzelmann, V; Lardinois, D; Walseng, E; Rader, C; Mertz, K D; Zippelius, A; Thommen, D S (2021). Integrated functional and spatial profiling of tumour immune responses induced by immunotherapy: the iPROFILER platform. Immuno-oncology technology, 10(C) Elsevier 10.1016/j.iotech.2021.100034

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Cancer immunotherapy elicits functional activation and changes in immune cell distribution in cancer. Tumour heterogeneity is a reason for treatment failure but is difficult to capture in experimental settings. This proof-of-principle study describes the integrated functional and digital spatial profiling platform iPROFILER to capture in-situ immune activation patterns with high precision.

Materials and methods

iPROFILER combines an algorithm-based image analysis approach for spatial profiling with functional analyses of patient-derived tumour fragments (PDTFs). This study utilized a folate receptor 1 (FOLR1)xCD3 bispecific antibody in dual-affinity re-targeting (DART) format as a tool for inducing T-cell responses in patient tumour samples, and an in-depth investigation of the immune perturbations induced in the tumour microenvironment was performed.


Ex-vivo DART stimulation induces upregulation of multiple activation markers in CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell populations and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines in FOLR1-positive tumour specimens. This response was reduced or absent in tissue samples that did not express FOLR1. Immunological responses were driven by a strong induction of interferon gamma (IFNγ) and IFNγ-induced chemokines suggestive of activation of cytotoxic or Th1-like T cells. Ex-vivo DART treatment led to a numerical increase in effector T cells and an upregulation of immune activation markers in the tumour microenvironment as captured by digital image analysis. Analysis of immune activation in tumour and stromal regions further supported the potential of the platform to measure local differences in cell-type-specific activation patterns.


iPROFILER effectively combines functional and spatial readouts to investigate immune responses ex vivo in human tumour samples.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Pathology

UniBE Contributor:

Zlobec, Inti


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

21 Feb 2022 10:14

Last Modified:

21 Feb 2022 10:37

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Ex-vivo models computer-assisted image processing digital pathology immunotherapy tumour biomarkers tumour microenvironment




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