Regulatory T-Cells and Associated Pathways in Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma (mRCC) Patients Undergoing DC-Vaccination and Cytokine-Therapy
ABSTRACT To evaluate CD4(+)CD25(+)FOXP3(+) T regulatory cells (T(REG)) and associated immune-regulatory pathways in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) patients and healthy volunteers. We subsequently investigated the effects of immunotherapy on circulating T(REG) combining an extensive phenotype examination, DNA methylation analysis and global transcriptome analysis.
Eighteen patients with mRCC and twelve volunteers (controls) were available for analysis. T(REG) phenotype was examined using flow cytometry (FCM). T(REG) were also quantified by analyzing the epigenetic status of the FOXP3 locus using methylation specific PCR. As a third approach, RNA of the PBL was hybridized to Affymetrix GeneChip Human Gene 1.0 ST Arrays and the gene signatures were explored using pathway analysis.
We observed higher numbers of T(REG) in pre-treatment PBL of mRCC patients compared to controls. A significant increase in T(REG) was detected in all mRCC patients after the two cycles of immunotherapy. The expansion of T(REG) was significantly higher in non-responders than in responding patients. Methylation specific PCR confirmed the FCM data and circumvented the variability and subjectivity of the FCM method. Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) of the microarray data showed significant enrichment of FOXP3 target genes, CTLA-4 and TGF-ß associated pathways in the patient cohort.
Immune monitoring of the peripheral blood and tumor tissue is important for a wide range of diseases and treatment strategies. Adoption of methodology for quantifying T(REG) with the least variability and subjectivity will enhance the ability to compare and interpret findings across studies.
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ABSTRACT: To move forward with immunotherapy, it is important to understand how the tumor microenvironment generates systemic immunosuppression in patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) as well as in patients with other types of solid tumors. Even though antigen discovery in RCC has lagged behind melanoma, recent clinical trials have finally authenticated that RCC is susceptible to vaccine-based therapy. Furthermore, judicious coadministration of cytokines and chemotherapy can potentiate therapeutic responses to vaccine in RCC and prolong survival, as has already proved possible for melanoma. Although high-dose interleukin 2 immunotherapy has been superseded as first-line therapy for RCC by promiscuous receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (rTKIs) such as sunitinib, sunitinib itself is a potent immunoadjunct in animal tumor models. A reasonable therapeutic goal is to unite antiangiogenic strategies with immunotherapy as first-line therapy for RCC. This strategy is equally appropriate for testing in all solid tumors in which the microenvironment generates immunosuppression. A common element of RCC and pancreatic, colon, breast, and other solid tumors is large numbers of circulating myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), and because MDSCs elicit regulatory T cells rather than vice versa, gaining control over MDSCs is an important initial step in any immunotherapy. Although rTKIs like sunitinib have a remarkable capacity to deplete MDSCs and restore normal T-cell function in peripheral body compartments such as the bloodstream and the spleen, such rTKIs are effective only against MDSCs, which are engaged in phospho-STAT3-dependent programming (pSTAT3+). Unfortunately, rTKI-resistant pSTAT3- MDSCs are especially apt to arise within the tumor microenvironment itself, necessitating strategies that do not rely exclusively on STAT3 disruption. The most utilitarian strategy to gain control of both pSTAT3+ and pSTAT3- MDSCs may be to exploit the natural differentiation pathway, which permits MDSCs to mature into tumoricidal macrophages (TM1) via such stimuli as Toll-like receptor agonists, interferon γ, and CD40 ligation. Overall, this review highlights the mechanisms of immune suppression used by the different regulatory cell types operative in RCC as well as other tumors. It also describes the different therapeutic strategies to overcome the suppressive nature of the tumor microenvironment.The Cancer Journal 01/2013; 19(4):353-64. DOI:10.1097/PPO.0b013e31829da0ae · 3.61 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The expansion of regulatory T cells (Treg) is a common event characterizing the vast majority of human and experimental tumors and it is now well established that Treg represent a crucial hurdle for a successful immunotherapy. Treg are currently classified, according to their origin, into thymus-derived Treg (tTreg) or peripherally induced Treg (pTreg) cells. Controversy exists over the prevalent mechanism accounting for Treg expansion in tumors, since both tTreg proliferation and de novo pTreg differentiation may occur. Since tTreg and pTreg are believed as preferentially self-specific or broadly directed to non-self and tumor-specific antigens, respectively, the balance between tTreg and pTreg accumulation may impact on the repertoire of antigen specificities recognized by Treg in tumors. The prevalence of tTreg or pTreg may also affect the outcome of immunotherapies based on tumor-antigen vaccination or Treg depletion. The mechanisms dictating pTreg induction or tTreg expansion/stability are a matter of intense investigation and the most recent results depict a complex landscape. Indeed, selected Treg subsets may display peculiar characteristics in terms of stability, suppressive function, and cytokine production, depending on microenvironmental signals. These features may be differentially distributed between pTreg and tTreg and may significantly affect the possibility of manipulating Treg in cancer therapy. We propose here that innovative immunotherapeutic strategies may be directed at diverting unstable/uncommitted Treg, mostly enriched in the pTreg pool, into tumor-specific effectors, while preserving systemic immune tolerance ensured by self-specific tTreg.Frontiers in Immunology 01/2013; 4:247. DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2013.00247
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ABSTRACT: While immune monitoring of tumor immunotherapy often focuses on the generation of productive Th1-type inflammatory immune responses, the importance of regulatory immune responses is often overlooked, despite the well-documented effects of regulatory immune responses in suppressing anti-tumor immunity. In a variety of malignancies, the frequency of regulatory cell populations has been shown to correlate with disease progression and a poor prognosis, further emphasizing the importance of characterizing the effects of immunotherapy on these populations. This review focuses on the role of suppressive immune populations (regulatory T cells, myeloid-derived suppressor cells, and tumor-associated macrophages) in inhibiting anti-tumor immunity, how these populations have been used in the immune monitoring of clinical trials, the prognostic value of these responses, and how the monitoring of these regulatory responses can be improved in the future.Frontiers in Oncology 05/2013; 3:109. DOI:10.3389/fonc.2013.00109