Rational combinations of immunotherapeutics that target discrete pathways.
ABSTRACT: An effective anti-tumor immune response requires the coordinated action of the innate and adaptive phases of the immune system. Critical processes include the activation of dendritic cells to present antigens, produce cytokines including type I interferons, and express multiple costimulatory ligands; induction of a productive T cell response within lymph nodes; migration of activated T cells to the tumor microenvironment in response to chemokines and homing receptor expression; and having effector T cells gain access to antigen-expressing tumor cells and maintain sufficient functionality to destroy them. However, tumors can become adept at escaping the immune response, developing multiple mechanisms to disrupt key processes. In general, tumors can be assigned into two different, major groups depending on whether the tumor there is an 'inflamed' or 'non-inflamed' tumor microenvironment. Improvements in our understanding of the interactions between the immune system and cancer have resulted in the development of various strategies to improve the immune-mediated control of tumors in both sub-groups. Categories of major immunotherapeutic intervention include methods to increase the frequency of tumor antigen-specific effector T cells in the circulation, strategies to block or uncouple a range of immune suppressive mechanisms within the tumor microenvironment, and tactics to induce de novo immune inflammation within the tumor microenvironment. The latter may be particularly important for eliciting immune recognition of non-inflamed tumor phenotypes. The premise put forth in this review is that synergistic therapeutic effects in vivo may be derived from combination therapies taken from distinct "bins" based on these mechanisms of action. Early data in both preclinical and some clinical studies provide support for this model. We also suggest that optimal application of these combinations may be aided by appropriate patient selection based on predictive biomarkers.
Project description:Effector T cells have the capability of recognizing and killing cancer cells. However, whether tumors can become immune resistant through exclusion of effector T cells from the tumor microenvironment is not known. By using a tumor model resembling non-T cell-inflamed human tumors, we assessed whether adoptive T cell transfer might overcome failed spontaneous priming. Flow cytometric assays combined with intra-vital imaging indicated failed trafficking of effector T cells into tumors. Mechanistically, this was due to the absence of CXCL9/10, which we found to be produced by CD103+ dendritic cells (DCs) in T cell-inflamed tumors. Our data indicate that lack of CD103+ DCs within the tumor microenvironment dominantly resists the effector phase of an anti-tumor T cell response, contributing to immune escape.
Project description:A significant subset of head and neck cancers display a T-cell inflamed phenotype, suggesting that patients with these tumors should respond to therapeutic approaches aimed at strengthening anti-tumor immune responses. A major barrier to the development of an effective anti-tumor immune response, at baseline or in response to immunotherapy, is the development of an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Several well described mechanisms of effector immune cell suppression in the head and neck cancer microenvironment are discussed here, along with updates on current trials designed to translate what we have learned from pre-clinical and correlative clinical studies into improved responses in patients with head and neck cancer following immune activating therapies.
Project description:The biological and functional heterogeneity between tumors-both across and within cancer types-poses a challenge for immunotherapy. To understand the factors underlying tumor immune heterogeneity and immunotherapy sensitivity, we established a library of congenic tumor cell clones from an autochthonous mouse model of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. These clones generated tumors that recapitulated T cell-inflamed and non-T-cell-inflamed tumor microenvironments upon implantation in immunocompetent mice, with distinct patterns of infiltration by immune cell subsets. Co-injecting tumor cell clones revealed the non-T-cell-inflamed phenotype is dominant and that both quantitative and qualitative features of intratumoral CD8+ T cells determine response to therapy. Transcriptomic and epigenetic analyses revealed tumor-cell-intrinsic production of the chemokine CXCL1 as a determinant of the non-T-cell-inflamed microenvironment, and ablation of CXCL1 promoted T cell infiltration and sensitivity to a combination immunotherapy regimen. Thus, tumor cell-intrinsic factors shape the tumor immune microenvironment and influence the outcome of immunotherapy.
Project description:A highly expressed prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in tumor tissues suppresses antitumor immunity in the tumor microenvironment (TME) and causes tumor immune evasion leading to disease progression. In animal studies, selective inhibition of the prostaglandin E receptor 4 (EP4), one of four PGE2 receptors, suppresses tumor growth, restoring the tumor immune response toward an antitumorigenic condition. This review summarizes PGE2/EP4 signal inhibition in relation to the cancer-immunity cycle (C-IC), which describes fundamental tumor-immune interactions in cancer immunotherapy. PGE2 is suggested to slow down C-IC by inhibiting natural killer cell functions, suppressing the supply of conventional dendritic cell precursors to the TME. This is critical for the tumor-associated antigen priming of CD8+ T cells and their translocation to the tumor tissue from the tumor-draining lymph node. Furthermore, PGE2 activates several key immune-suppressive cells present in tumors and counteracts tumoricidal properties of the effector CD8+ T cells. These effects of PGE2 drive the tumors to non-T-cell-inflamed tumors and cause refractory conditions to cancer immunotherapies, e.g., immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) treatment. EP4 antagonist therapy is suggested to inhibit the immune-suppressive and tumorigenic roles of PGE2 in tumors, and it may sensitize the therapeutic effects of ICIs in patients with non-inflamed and C-IC-deficient tumors. This review provides insight into the mechanism of action of EP4 antagonists in cancer immunotherapy and suggests a C-IC modulating opportunity for EP4 antagonist therapy in combination with ICIs and/or other cancer therapies.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The tumor microenvironment can be classified into immunologically active "inflamed" tumors and inactive "non-inflamed" tumors based on the infiltration of cytotoxic immune cells. Previous studies on liver cancer have reported a superior prognosis for inflamed tumors compared to non-inflamed tumors. However, liver cancer is highly heterogeneous immunologically and genetically, and a finer classification of the liver cancer microenvironment may improve our understanding of its immunological diversity and response to immune therapy. METHODS:We characterized the immune gene signatures of 234 primary liver cancers, mainly virus-related, from a Japanese population using RNA-Seq of tumors and matched non-tumorous hepatitis livers. We then compared them with the somatic alterations detected using the whole-genome sequencing. FINDINGS:Liver cancers expressed lower levels of immune marker genes than non-tumorous hepatitis livers, indicating immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment. Several immunosuppression mechanisms functioned actively and mutually exclusively, resulting in four immune subclasses of liver cancer: tumor-associated macrophage (TAM), CTNNB1, cytolytic activity (CYT), and regulatory T cell (Treg). The CYT and Treg subclasses represented inflamed tumors, while the TAM and CTNNB1 subclasses represented non-inflamed tumors. The TAM subclass, which comprised 31% of liver cancers, showed a poor survival, expressed elevated levels of extracellular matrix genes, and was associated with somatic mutations of chromatin regulator ARID2. The results of cell line experiments suggested a functional link between ARID2 and chemokine production by liver cancer cells. INTERPRETATION:Primary liver cancer was classified into four subclasses based on mutually exclusive mechanisms for immunosuppression. This classification indicate the importance of immunosuppression mechanisms, such as TAM and Treg, as therapeutic targets for liver cancer. FUNDING:The Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED).
Project description:Lymphoid and myeloid cells are abundant in the tumor microenvironment, can be quantified by immunohistochemistry and shape the disease course of human solid tumors. Yet, there is no comprehensive understanding of spatial immune infiltration patterns ('topography') across cancer entities and across various immune cell types. In this study, we systematically measure the topography of multiple immune cell types in 965 histological tissue slides from N = 177 patients in a pan-cancer cohort. We provide a definition of inflamed ('hot'), non-inflamed ('cold') and immune excluded patterns and investigate how these patterns differ between immune cell types and between cancer types. In an independent cohort of N = 287 colorectal cancer patients, we show that hot, cold and excluded topographies for effector lymphocytes (CD8) and tumor-associated macrophages (CD163) alone are not prognostic, but that a bivariate classification system can stratify patients. Our study adds evidence to consider immune topographies as biomarkers for patients with solid tumors.
Project description:Immune checkpoint blockade therapies fail to induce responses in the majority of cancer patients, so how to increase the objective response rate becomes an urgent challenge. Here, we demonstrate that sufficient T cell infiltration in tumor tissues is a prerequisite for response to PD-L1 blockade. Targeting tumors with tumor necrosis factor superfamily member LIGHT activates lymphotoxin ?-receptor signaling, leading to the production of chemokines that recruit massive numbers of T cells. Furthermore, targeting non-T cell-inflamed tumor tissues by antibody-guided LIGHT creates a T cell-inflamed microenvironment and overcomes tumor resistance to checkpoint blockade. Our data indicate that targeting LIGHT might be a potent strategy to increase the responses to checkpoint blockades and other immunotherapies in non-T cell-inflamed tumors.
Project description:An effective antitumor immune response requires interaction between cells of the adaptive and innate immune system. Three key elements are required: generation of activated tumor-directed T cells, infiltration of activated T cells into the tumor microenvironment, and killing of tumor cells by activated T cells. Tumor immune evasion can occur as a result of the disruption of each of these three key T cell activities, resulting in three distinct cancer-immune phenotypes. The immune inflamed phenotype, characterized by the presence of a robust tumor immune infiltrate, suggests impaired activated T cell killing of tumor cells related to the presence of inhibitory factors. Programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) is an inhibitory transmembrane protein expressed on T cells, B cells, and NK cells. The interaction between PD-1 and its ligands (PD-L1/L2) functions as an immune checkpoint against unrestrained cytotoxic T effector cell activity-it promotes peripheral T effector cell exhaustion and conversion of T effector cells to immunosuppressive T regulatory (Treg) cells. Immune checkpoint inhibitors, which block the PD-1/PD-L1 axis and reactivate cytotoxic T effector cell function, are actively being investigated for the treatment of breast cancer.
Project description:Tumor escape from immune-mediated destruction has been associated with immunosuppressive mechanisms that inhibit T cell activation. Although evidence for an active immune response, including infiltration with CD8(+) T cells, can be found in a subset of patients, those tumors are nonetheless not immunologically rejected. In the current report, we show that it is the subset of T cell-inflamed tumors that showed high expression of three defined immunosuppressive mechanisms: indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), PD-L1/B7-H1, and FoxP3(+) regulatory T cells (T(regs)), suggesting that these inhibitory pathways might serve as negative feedback mechanisms that followed, rather than preceded, CD8(+) T cell infiltration. Mechanistic studies in mice revealed that up-regulated expression of IDO and PD-L1, as well as recruitment of T(regs), in the tumor microenvironment depended on the presence of CD8(+) T cells. The former was driven by interferon-? and the latter by a production of CCR4-binding chemokines along with a component of induced proliferation. Our results argue that these major immunosuppressive pathways are intrinsically driven by the immune system rather than being orchestrated by cancer cells, and imply that cancer immunotherapy approaches targeting negative regulatory immune checkpoints might be preferentially beneficial for patients with a preexisting T cell-inflamed tumor microenvironment.
Project description:High-dose ionizing irradiation (IR) results in direct tumor cell death and augments tumor-specific immunity, which enhances tumor control both locally and distantly. Unfortunately, local relapses often occur following IR treatment, indicating that IR-induced responses are inadequate to maintain antitumor immunity. Therapeutic blockade of the T cell negative regulator programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1, also called B7-H1) can enhance T cell effector function when PD-L1 is expressed in chronically inflamed tissues and tumors. Here, we demonstrate that PD-L1 was upregulated in the tumor microenvironment after IR. Administration of anti-PD-L1 enhanced the efficacy of IR through a cytotoxic T cell-dependent mechanism. Concomitant with IR-mediated tumor regression, we observed that IR and anti-PD-L1 synergistically reduced the local accumulation of tumor-infiltrating myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), which suppress T cells and alter the tumor immune microenvironment. Furthermore, activation of cytotoxic T cells with combination therapy mediated the reduction of MDSCs in tumors through the cytotoxic actions of TNF. Our data provide evidence for a close interaction between IR, T cells, and the PD-L1/PD-1 axis and establish a basis for the rational design of combination therapy with immune modulators and radiotherapy.