Although many human cancers are located in mucosal sites, most cancer vaccines are tested against subcutaneous tumors in preclinical models. We therefore wondered whether mucosa-specific homing instructions to the immune system might influence mucosal tumor outgrowth. We showed that the growth of orthotopic head and neck or lung cancers was inhibited when a cancer vaccine was delivered by the intranasal mucosal route but not the intramuscular route. This antitumor effect was dependent on CD8+ T cells. Indeed, only intranasal vaccination elicited mucosal-specific CD8+ T cells expressing the mucosal integrin CD49a. Blockade of CD49a decreased intratumoral CD8+ T cell infiltration and the efficacy of cancer vaccine on mucosal tumor. We then showed that after intranasal vaccination, dendritic cells from lung parenchyma, but not those from spleen, induced the expression of CD49a on cocultured specific CD8+ T cells. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes from human mucosal lung cancer also expressed CD49a, which supports the relevance and possible extrapolation of these results in humans. We thus identified a link between the route of vaccination and the induction of a mucosal homing program on induced CD8+ T cells that controlled their trafficking. Immunization route directly affected the efficacy of the cancer vaccine to control mucosal tumors.
Strong evidence supports the concept of immunosurveillance and immunoediting in colorectal cancer. In particular, the density of T CD8+ and CD45+ lymphocyte infiltration was recently shown to have a better prognostic value than the classic tumor node metastasis classification factor. Other immune subsets, as macrophages, natural killer cells or unconventionnal lymphocytes, seem to play an important role. Induction of regulatory T cells (Tregs) or immunosuppressive molecules such as PD-1 or CTLA-4 and downregulation of antigen-presenting molecules are major escape mechanisms to antitumor immune response. The development of these mechanisms is a major obstacle to the establishment of an effective immune response, but also to the use of immunotherapy. Although immunotherapy is not yet routinely used in colorectal cancer, we now know that most treatments used (chemotherapy and biotherapy) have immunomodulatory effects, such as induction of immunogenic cell death by chemotherapy, inhibition of immunosuppression by antiangiogenic agents, and antibody-dependent cytotoxicity induced by cetuximab. Finally, many immunotherapy strategies are being developed and tested in phase I to III clinical trials. The most promising strategies are boosting the immune system with cytokines, inhibition of immunoregulatory checkpoints, vaccination with vectorized antigens, and adoptive cell therapy. Comprehension of antitumor immune response and combination of the different approaches of immunotherapy may allow the use of effective immunotherapy for treatment of colorectal cancer in the near future.
Colorectal cancer; Immunotherapy; Immunity; Immunoregulation; Vaccination
The endothelium is nowadays described as an entire organ that regulates various processes: vascular tone, coagulation, inflammation, and immune cell trafficking, depending on the vascular site and its specific microenvironment as well as on endothelial cell-intrinsic mechanisms like epigenetic changes. In this review, we will focus on the control of the adaptive immune response by the tumor vasculature. In physiological conditions, the endothelium acts as a barrier regulating cell trafficking by specific expression of adhesion molecules enabling adhesion of immune cells on the vessel, and subsequent extravasation. This process is also dependent on chemokine and integrin expression, and on the type of junctions defining the permeability of the endothelium. Endothelial cells can also regulate immune cell activation. In fact, the endothelial layer can constitute immunological synapses due to its close interactions with immune cells, and the delivery of co-stimulatory or co-inhibitory signals. In tumor conditions, the vasculature is characterized by an abnormal vessel structure and permeability, and by a specific phenotype of endothelial cells. All these abnormalities lead to a modulation of intra-tumoral immune responses and contribute to the development of intra-tumoral immunosuppression, which is a major mechanism for promoting the development, progression, and treatment resistance of tumors. The in-depth analysis of these various abnormalities will help defining novel targets for the development of anti-tumoral treatments. Furthermore, eventual changes of the endothelial cell phenotype identified by plasma biomarkers could secondarily be selected to monitor treatment efficacy.
endothelial cell; adaptive immunity; tumor; lymphocyte infiltration; immunological synapse
The progressive conversion of normal cells into cancer cells is characterized by the acquisition of eight hallmarks. Among these criteria, the capability of the cancer cell to avoid the immune destruction has been noted. Thus, tumors develop mechanisms to become invisible to the immune system, such as the induction of immunosuppressive cells, which are able to inhibit the development of an efficient immune response. Molecules produced in the tumor microenvironment are involved in the occurrence of an immunosuppressive microenvironment. Recently, it has been shown that vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) exhibits immunosuppressive properties in addition to its pro-angiogenic activities. VEGF-A can induce the accumulation of immature dendritic cells, myeloid-derived suppressor cells, regulatory T cells, and inhibit the migration of T lymphocytes to the tumor. Other pro-angiogenic factors such as placental growth factor (PlGF) could also participate in tumor-induced immunosuppression, but only few works have been performed on this point. Here, we review the impact of pro-angiogenic factors (especially VEGF-A) on immune cells. Anti-angiogenic molecules, which target VEGF-A/VEGFR axis, have been developed in the last decades and are commonly used to treat cancer patients. These drugs have anti-angiogenic properties but can also counteract the tumor-induced immunosuppression. Based on these immunomodulatory properties, anti-angiogenic molecules could be efficiently associated with immunotherapeutic strategies in preclinical models. These combinations are currently under investigation in cancer patients.
pro-angiogenic factors; VEGF-A; PlGF; tumor; immunosuppression; regulatory T cells; MDSC; immunotherapy
We investigated whether gingival fibroblasts (GFs) can modulate the differentiation and/or maturation of monocyte-derived dendritic cells (DCs) and analyzed soluble factors that may be involved in this immune modulation. Experiments were performed using human monocytes in co-culture with human GFs in Transwell® chambers or using monocyte cultures treated with conditioned media (CM) from GFs of four donors. The four CM and supernatants from cell culture were assayed by ELISA for cytokines involved in the differentiation of dendritic cells, such as IL-6, VEGF, TGFβ1, IL-13 and IL-10. The maturation of monocyte-derived DCs induced by LPS in presence of CM was also studied. Cell surface phenotype markers were analyzed by flow cytometry. In co-cultures, GFs inhibited the differentiation of monocyte-derived DCs and the strength of this blockade correlated with the GF/monocyte ratio. Conditioned media from GFs showed similar effects, suggesting the involvement of soluble factors produced by GFs. This inhibition was associated with a lower stimulatory activity in MLR of DCs generated with GFs or its CM. Neutralizing antibodies against IL-6 and VEGF significantly (P<0.05) inhibited the inhibitory effect of CM on the differentiation of monocytes-derived DCs and in a dose dependent manner. Our data suggest that IL-6 is the main factor responsible for the inhibition of DCs differentiation mediated by GFs but that VEGF is also involved and constitutes an additional mechanism.
Some of the anti-angiogenic agents currently used to treat solid malignancies have effects on tumor endothelial cells as well as on immune cells. We have recently demonstrated that targeting the vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA)/VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2) signaling pathway reduces the proportion of regulatory T cells (Treg) in a mouse model of colorectal cancer (CRC) and in metastatic CRC patients as it inhibits tumor-induced Treg proliferation.
regulatory T cells; VEGF-A; proliferation; immunosuppression; tumor; colorectal cancer
Various arguments support the development of a vaccine targeting human papillomavirus (HPV) for the treatment of HPV-associated head and neck cancer. However, the mucosal localization of this tumor, the HPV-driven downregulation of MHC Class I molecules and various other immunosuppressive mechanisms must be carefully considered to improve the clinical efficacy of such an immunotherapeutic strategy.
head and neck; HPV; immunotherapy; mucosal immunity; PD1
In the last decades a new class of therapeutic drugs have been developed that block tumor angiogenesis. These antiangiogenic molecules, which target VEGF or VEGFR, PDGFR, and c-kit, can act not only on endothelial cells but also on immune cells. Some antiangiogenic molecules inhibit the development of immunosuppressive mechanisms developed by the tumors to escape the immune system (such as regulatory T cells, myeloid-derived suppressor cells, and immunosuppressive cytokines). These immunomodulatory effects must be characterized in detail to enable a better prescription of these treatments. In this paper we will focus on the impact of anti-angiogenic drugs on immunosuppression and their potential combination with immunotherapeutic strategies. Interestingly, immune parameters or their modulation during treatment could serve as potential biomarkers of response or resistance to anti-angiogenic therapies.
CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Treg) have emerged as a dominant T cell population inhibiting anti-tumor effector T cells. Initial strategies used for Treg-depletion (cyclophosphamide, anti-CD25 mAb…) also targeted activated T cells, as they share many phenotypic markers. Current, ameliorated approaches to inhibit Treg aim to either block their function or their migration to lymph nodes and the tumor microenvironment. Various drugs originally developed for other therapeutic indications (anti-angiogenic molecules, tyrosine kinase inhibitors,etc) have recently been discovered to inhibit Treg. These approaches are expected to be rapidly translated to clinical applications for therapeutic use in combination with immunomodulators.
CCR4; antiangiogenic molecule; chemokine; regulatory T cell
Dendritic cell (DC) derived-exosomes (Dex) are nanomeric vesicles harboring functional MHC/peptide complexes promoting T cell-dependent tumor rejection. In the first Phase I trial using peptide-pulsed Dex, the observation of clinical regressions in the absence of T cell responses prompted the search for alternate effector mechanisms. Mouse studies unraveled the bioactivity of Dex on NK cells. Indeed, Dex promoted an IL-15Rα- and NKG2D-dependent NK cell proliferation and activation respectively, resulting in anti-metastatic effects mediated by NK1.1+ cells. In humans, Dex express functional IL-15Rα which allow proliferation and IFNγ secretion by NK cells. In contrast to immature DC, human Dex harbor NKG2D ligands on their surface leading to a direct engagement of NKG2D and NK cell activation ex vivo. In our phase I clinical trial, we highlight the capacity of Dex based-vaccines to restore the number and NKG2D-dependent function of NK cells in 7/14 patients. Altogether, these data provide a mechanistic explanation on how Dex may stimulate non MHC restricted-anti-tumor effectors and induce tumor regression in vivo.
Tumor growth promotes the expansion of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T (T reg) cells that counteract T cell–mediated immune responses. An inverse correlation between natural killer (NK) cell activation and T reg cell expansion in tumor-bearing patients, shown here, prompted us to address the role of T reg cells in controlling innate antitumor immunity. Our experiments indicate that human T reg cells expressed membrane-bound transforming growth factor (TGF)–β, which directly inhibited NK cell effector functions and down-regulated NKG2D receptors on the NK cell surface. Adoptive transfer of wild-type T reg cells but not TGF-β−/− T reg cells into nude mice suppressed NK cell–mediated cytotoxicity, reduced NKG2D receptor expression, and accelerated the growth of tumors that are normally controlled by NK cells. Conversely, the depletion of mouse T reg cells exacerbated NK cell proliferation and cytotoxicity in vivo. Human NK cell–mediated tumor recognition could also be restored by depletion of T reg cells from tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. These findings support a role for T reg cells in blunting the NK cell arm of the innate immune system.
Mutant isoforms of the KIT or PDGF receptors expressed by gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are considered the therapeutic targets for STI571 (imatinib mesylate; Gleevec), a specific inhibitor of these tyrosine kinase receptors. Case reports of clinical efficacy of Gleevec in GISTs lacking the typical receptor mutations prompted a search for an alternate mode of action. Here we show that Gleevec can act on host DCs to promote NK cell activation. DC-mediated NK cell activation was triggered in vitro and in vivo by treatment of DCs with Gleevec as well as by a loss-of-function mutation of KIT. Therefore, tumors that are refractory to the antiproliferative effects of Gleevec in vitro responded to Gleevec in vivo in an NK cell–dependent manner. Longitudinal studies of Gleevec-treated GIST patients revealed a therapy-induced increase in IFN-γ production by NK cells, correlating with an enhanced antitumor response. These data point to a novel mode of antitumor action for Gleevec.
Given the broad expression of H-2 class Ib molecules on hematopoietic cells, antigen presentation pathways among CD1d expressing cells might tightly regulate CD1d-restricted natural killer T (NKT) cells. Bone marrow–derived dendritic cells (BM-DCs) and not adherent splenocytes become capable of triggering NK1.1+/T cell receptor (TCR)int hepatic NKT cell activation when (a) immature BM-DCs lack H-2Db−/− molecules or (b) BM-DCs undergo a stress signal of activation. In such conditions, BM-DCs promote T helper type 1 predominant CD1d-restricted NKT cell stimulation. H-2 class Ia–mediated inhibition involves more the direct H-2Db presentation than the indirect Qa-1b pathway. Such inhibition can be overruled by B7/CD28 interactions and marginally by CD40/CD40L or interleukin 12. These data point to a unique regulatory role of DCs in NKT cell innate immune responses and suggest that H-2 class Ia and Ib pathways differentially control NKT cell recognition of DC antigens.
inhibitory receptors; IFN-γ; costimulation; CD1d; NKT cells