Exercise-induced engagement of the IL-15/IL-15RÎ± axis promotes anti-tumor immunity in pancreatic cancer
Aerobic exercise is associated with decreased cancer incidence and cancer-associated mortality. However, little is known about the effects of exercise on pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), a disease for which current therapeutic options are limited. Herein, we show that aerobic exercise reduces PDA tumor growth, by modulating systemic and intra-tumoral immunity. Mechanistically, exercise promotes immune mobilization and accumulation of tumor-infiltrating IL15RÎ±+ CD8 TÂ cells, which are responsible for the tumor-protective effects. In clinical samples, an exercise-dependent increase of intra-tumoral CD8 T cells is also observed. Underscoring the translational potential of the interleukin (IL)-15/IL-15RÎ± axis, IL-15 super-agonist (NIZ985) treatment attenuates tumor growth, prolongs survival, and enhances sensitivity to chemotherapy. Finally, exercise or NIZ985 both sensitize pancreatic tumors to Î±PD-1, with improved anti-tumor and survival benefits. Collectively, our findings highlight the therapeutic potential of an exercise-oncology axis and identify IL-15 activation as a promising treatment strategy for this deadly disease.
A novel target for combination immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer: IL-1Î² mediates immunosuppression in the tumour microenvironment
Immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) has demonstrated efficacy in multiple cancers, offering the potential of long-term disease control not achievable with cytotoxic or targeted therapies. However, the field has not yet achieved the crucial next stepsÂ - the expansion of the response rate and achievement of clinical efficacy in so-called "cold tumours". Mechanistic studies of tumour-type specific immunosuppressive pathways can reveal underlying biological hurdles to immunotherapy and offer new therapeutic insights. Our finding that tumour-derived IL-1Î² mediates immunosuppression in pancreatic cancer has precipitated a new clinical trial.
Lack of immunoediting in murine pancreatic cancer reversed with neoantigen
In carcinogen-driven cancers, a high mutational burden results in neoepitopes that can be recognized immunologically. Such carcinogen-induced tumors may evade this immune response through "immunoediting," whereby tumors adapt to immune pressure and escape T cell-mediated killing. Many tumors lack a high neoepitope burden, and it remains unclear whether immunoediting occurs in such cases. Here, we evaluated T cell immunity in an autochthonous mouse model of pancreatic cancer and found a low mutational burden, absence of predicted neoepitopes derived from tumor mutations, and resistance to checkpoint immunotherapy. Spontaneous tumor progression was identical in the presence or absence of T cells. Moreover, tumors arising in T cell-depleted mice grew unchecked in immune-competent hosts. However, introduction of the neoantigen ovalbumin (OVA) led to tumor rejection and T cell memory, but this did not occur in OVA immune-tolerant mice. Thus, immunoediting does not occur in this mouse model - a likely consequence, not a cause, of absent neoepitopes. Because many human tumors also have a low missense mutational load and minimal neoepitope burden, our findings have clinical implications for the design of immunotherapy for patients with such tumors.
Exclusion of T Cells From Pancreatic Carcinomas in Mice Is Regulated by Ly6C(low) F4/80(+) Extratumoral Macrophages
BACKGROUND & AIMS/OBJECTIVE:Immunotherapies that induce T-cell responses have shown efficacy against some solid malignancies in patients and mice, but these have little effect on pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). We investigated whether the ability of PDAC to evade T-cell responses induced by immunotherapies results from the low level of immunogenicity of tumor cells, the tumor's immunosuppressive mechanisms, or both. METHODS:Kras(G12D/+);Trp53(R172H/+);Pdx-1-Cre (KPC) mice, which develop spontaneous PDAC, or their littermates (controls) were given subcutaneous injections of a syngeneic KPC-derived PDAC cell line. Mice were then given gemcitabine and an agonist of CD40 to induce tumor-specific immunity mediated by T cells. Some mice were also given clodronate-encapsulated liposomes to deplete macrophages. Tumor growth was monitored. Tumor and spleen tissues were collected and analyzed by histology, flow cytometry, and immunohistochemistry. RESULTS:Gemcitabine in combination with a CD40 agonist induced T-cell-dependent regression of subcutaneous PDAC in KPC and control mice. In KPC mice given gemcitabine and a CD40 agonist, CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells infiltrated subcutaneous tumors, but only CD4(+) T cells infiltrated spontaneous pancreatic tumors (not CD8(+) T cells). In mice depleted of Ly6C(low) F4/80(+) extratumoral macrophages, the combination of gemcitabine and a CD40 agonist stimulated infiltration of spontaneous tumors by CD8(+) T cells and induced tumor regression, mediated by CD8(+) T cells. CONCLUSIONS:Ly6C(low) F4/80(+) macrophages that reside outside of the tumor microenvironment regulate infiltration of T cells into PDAC and establish a site of immune privilege. Strategies to reverse the immune privilege of PDAC, which is regulated by extratumoral macrophages, might increase the efficacy of T-cell immunotherapy for patients with PDAC.
Induction of T-cell Immunity Overcomes Complete Resistance to PD-1 and CTLA-4 Blockade and Improves Survival in Pancreatic Carcinoma
Disabling the function of immune checkpoint molecules can unlock T-cell immunity against cancer, yet despite remarkable clinical success with monoclonal antibodies (mAb) that block PD-1 or CTLA-4, resistance remains common and essentially unexplained. To date, pancreatic carcinoma is fully refractory to these antibodies. Here, using a genetically engineered mouse model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma in which spontaneous immunity is minimal, we found that PD-L1 is prominent in the tumor microenvironment, a phenotype confirmed in patients; however, tumor PD-L1 was found to be independent of IFNÎ³ in this model. Tumor T cells expressed PD-1 as prominently as T cells from chronically infected mice, but treatment with Î±PD-1 mAbs, with or without Î±CTLA-4 mAbs, failed in well-established tumors, recapitulating clinical results. Agonist Î±CD40 mAbs with chemotherapy induced T-cell immunity and reversed the complete resistance of pancreatic tumors to Î±PD-1 and Î±CTLA-4. The combination of Î±CD40/chemotherapy plus Î±PD-1 and/or Î±CTLA-4 induced regression of subcutaneous tumors, improved overall survival, and conferred curative protection from multiple tumor rechallenges, consistent with immune memory not otherwise achievable. Combinatorial treatment nearly doubled survival of mice with spontaneous pancreatic cancers, although no cures were observed. Our findings suggest that in pancreatic carcinoma, a nonimmunogenic tumor, baseline refractoriness to checkpoint inhibitors can be rescued by the priming of a T-cell response with Î±CD40/chemotherapy.
ER stress regulates myeloid-derived suppressor cell fate through TRAIL-R-mediated apoptosis
Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) dampen the immune response thorough inhibition of T cell activation and proliferation and often are expanded in pathological conditions. Here, we studied the fate of MDSCs in cancer. Unexpectedly, MDSCs had lower viability and a shorter half-life in tumor-bearing mice compared with neutrophils and monocytes. The reduction of MDSC viability was due to increased apoptosis, which was mediated by increased expression of TNF-related apoptosis-induced ligand receptors (TRAIL-Rs) in these cells. Targeting TRAIL-Rs in naive mice did not affect myeloid cell populations, but it dramatically reduced the presence of MDSCs and improved immune responses in tumor-bearing mice. Treatment of myeloid cells with proinflammatory cytokines did not affect TRAIL-R expression; however, induction of ER stress in myeloid cells recapitulated changes in TRAIL-R expression observed in tumor-bearing hosts. The ER stress response was detected in MDSCs isolated from cancer patients and tumor-bearing mice, but not in control neutrophils or monocytes, and blockade of ER stress abrogated tumor-associated changes in TRAIL-Rs. Together, these data indicate that MDSC pathophysiology is linked to ER stress, which shortens the lifespan of these cells in the periphery and promotes expansion in BM. Furthermore, TRAIL-Rs can be considered as potential targets for selectively inhibiting MDSCs.
CD40 immunotherapy for pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is a highly aggressive and lethal cancer which is poorly responsive to standard therapies. Although the PDA tumor microenvironment is considered especially immunosuppressive, recent data mostly from genetically engineered and other mouse models of the disease suggest that novel immunotherapeutic approaches hold promise. Here, we describe both laboratory and clinical efforts to target the CD40 pathway for immunotherapy in PDA. Findings suggest that CD40 agonists can mediate both T-cell-dependent and T-cell-independent immune mechanisms of tumor regression in mice and patients. T-cell-independent mechanisms are associated with macrophage activation and the destruction of PDA tumor stroma, supporting the concept that immune modulation of the tumor microenvironment represents a useful approach in cancer immunotherapy.
HIV-1 TAR miRNA protects against apoptosis by altering cellular gene expression
BACKGROUND:RNA interference is a gene regulatory mechanism that employs small RNA molecules such as microRNA. Previous work has shown that HIV-1 produces TAR viral microRNA. Here we describe the effects of the HIV-1 TAR derived microRNA on cellular gene expression. RESULTS:Using a variation of standard techniques we have cloned and sequenced both the 5' and 3' arms of the TAR miRNA. We show that expression of the TAR microRNA protects infected cells from apoptosis and acts by down-regulating cellular genes involved in apoptosis. Specifically, the microRNA down-regulates ERCC1 and IER3, protecting the cell from apoptosis. Comparison to our cloned sequence reveals possible target sites for the TAR miRNA as well. CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:The TAR microRNA is expressed in all stages of the viral life cycle, can be detected in latently infected cells, and represents a mechanism wherein the virus extends the life of the infected cell for the purpose of increasing viral replication.
HIV-1 TAR element is processed by Dicer to yield a viral micro-RNA involved in chromatin remodeling of the viral LTR
BACKGROUND:RNA interference (RNAi) is a regulatory mechanism conserved in higher eukaryotes. The RNAi pathway generates small interfering RNA (siRNA) or micro RNA (miRNA) from either long double stranded stretches of RNA or RNA hairpins, respectively. The siRNA or miRNA then guides an effector complex to a homologous sequence of mRNA and regulates suppression of gene expression through one of several mechanisms. The suppression of gene expression through these mechanisms serves to regulate endogenous gene expression and protect the cell from foreign nucleic acids. There is growing evidence that many viruses have developed in the context of RNAi and express either a suppressor of RNAi or their own viral miRNA. RESULTS:In this study we investigated the possibility that the HIV-1 TAR element, a hairpin structure of ~50 nucleotides found at the 5' end of the HIV viral mRNA, is recognized by the RNAi machinery and processed to yield a viral miRNA. We show that the protein Dicer, the enzyme responsible for cleaving miRNA and siRNA from longer RNA sequences, is expressed in CD4+ T-cells. Interestingly, the level of expression of Dicer in monocytes is sub-optimal, suggesting a possible role for RNAi in maintaining latency in T-cells. Using a biotin labeled TAR element we demonstrate that Dicer binds to this structure. We show that recombinant Dicer is capable of cleaving the TAR element in vitro and that TAR derived miRNA is present in HIV-1 infected cell lines and primary T-cell blasts. Finally, we show that a TAR derived miRNA is capable of regulating viral gene expression and may be involved in repressing gene expression through transcriptional silencing. CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:HIV-1 TAR element is processed by the Dicer enzyme to create a viral miRNA. This viral miRNA is detectable in infected cells and appears to contribute to viral latency.