Topical Collection "Mechanism of Immunotherapy in Cancers"

A topical collection in Cancers (ISSN 2072-6694). This collection belongs to the section "Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy".

Editors

Dr. Antonio Curti
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Azienda ospedaliero-universitaria Policlinico S.Orsola-Malpighi, Department of Hematology and Oncology, Institute of Hematology “L. and A. Seràgnoli”, Via Massarenti, 9 40138 Bologna, Italy
Interests: acute leukemias; immunotherapy; tolerance; NK cells; clinical trials
Dr. Alessandro Isidori
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Co-Guest Editor
Hematology and Stem Cell Transplant Center, Marche Nord Hospital, Via Lombroso, 1 61122 Pesaro, Italy
Interests: de novo acute myeloid leukemia; secondary acute myeloid leukemia; primary mielofibrosis; bone marrow microenvinronment; clonal evolution; stem cell transplantation; chemotherapy; targeted therapy; immunotherapy
Dr. Giuseppe Lo Russo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Thoracic Oncology Unit, Medical Oncology Department 1, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Via Giacomo Venezian, 1, 20133 Milan, Italy
Interests: lung cancer; thoracic oncology; immunotherapy; target therapy
Dr. Marina Chiara Garassino
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Thoracic Oncology Unit, Medical Oncology Department 1, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Via Giacomo Venezian, 1, 20133 Milan, Italy
Interests: lung cancer; thoracic oncology; immunotherapy; target therapy

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

In cancers, a better knowledge of the mechanisms leading to immunological activation/tolerance, as well as the identification of critical regulators, such as immune checkpoints, are paving the way for a fast-track development of a huge number of novel drugs and therapeutic strategies. Although major strides have been made in the deep understanding of the mechanisms underlying immunotherapy in cancers, a long list of unanswered questions is still awaiting response for a full exploitation of immunotherapy into the clinical ground. In the immunotherapy era, it is time to refine stratification and prognostication of cancer patients under a new immunological-driven biological approach. Moreover, few, if any, immune-based biomarkers, predictive of response to immune therapy, are under clinical use, and the impact of genetic alterations of cancer cells, which have a role in shaping immunological microenvironment, has not been fully elucidated. 

In a series of manuscripts authored by experts in the field, we plan to focus on a mechanism-based overview of novel immunotherapies in cancers. We will discuss open questions, regarding efficacy and safety signals, ideal therapeutic settings, mechanisms of resistance, the importance and incorporation of predictive biomarkers in clinical trials, and the overall potential for future development of immunotherapy in the cancer landscape.

Dr. Antonio Curti
Dr. Alessandro Isidori
Dr. Giuseppe Lo Russo
Dr. Marina Chiara Garassino
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • cancers
  • solid tumors
  • hematological neoplasms
  • immunotherapy
  • immune response
  • tolerance
  • resistance
  • clinical trials

Published Papers (27 papers)

2021

Jump to: 2020, 2019

Review
Immunomodulating Therapies in Breast Cancer—From Prognosis to Clinical Practice
Cancers 2021, 13(19), 4883; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13194883 - 29 Sep 2021
Viewed by 335
Abstract
The role of the immune system in breast cancer has been debated for decades. The advent of technologies such as next generation sequencing (NGS) has elucidated the crucial interplay between somatic mutations in tumors leading to neoantigens and immune responses with increased tumor-infiltrating [...] Read more.
The role of the immune system in breast cancer has been debated for decades. The advent of technologies such as next generation sequencing (NGS) has elucidated the crucial interplay between somatic mutations in tumors leading to neoantigens and immune responses with increased tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and improved prognosis of breast cancer patients. In particular, triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) has a higher mutational burden compared to other breast cancer subtypes. In addition, higher levels of tumor-associated antigens suggest that immunotherapies are a promising treatment option, specifically for TNBC. Indeed, higher concentrations of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes are associated with better prognosis and response to chemotherapy in TNBC. An important target within the cancer immune cell cycle is the “immune checkpoint”. Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICPis) block the interaction of certain cell surface proteins that act as “brakes” on immune responses. Recent studies have shown that ICPis improve survival in both early and advanced TNBC. However, this comes at the price of increased toxicity, particularly immune-mediated toxicity. As an alternative approach, individualized mRNA vaccination strategies against tumor-associated neoantigens represent another promising approach leading to neoantigen-specific immune responses. These novel strategies should help to improve treatment outcomes, especially for patients with triple negative breast cancer. Full article
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Review
Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Therapy: The Light of Day for Osteosarcoma
Cancers 2021, 13(17), 4469; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13174469 - 05 Sep 2021
Viewed by 611
Abstract
Osteosarcoma (OS) is the most common malignant bone tumor, arising mainly in children and adolescents. With the introduction of multiagent chemotherapy, the treatments of OS have remarkably improved, but the prognosis for patients with metastases is still poor, with a five-year survival rate [...] Read more.
Osteosarcoma (OS) is the most common malignant bone tumor, arising mainly in children and adolescents. With the introduction of multiagent chemotherapy, the treatments of OS have remarkably improved, but the prognosis for patients with metastases is still poor, with a five-year survival rate of 20%. In addition, adverse effects brought by traditional treatments, including radical surgery and systemic chemotherapy, may seriously affect the survival quality of patients. Therefore, new treatments for OS await exploitation. As a novel immunotherapy, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy has achieved encouraging results in treating cancer in recent years, especially in leukemia and lymphoma. Furthermore, researchers have recently focused on CAR-T therapy in solid tumors, including OS. In this review, we summarize the safety, specificity, and clinical transformation of the targets in treating OS and point out the direction for further research. Full article
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Article
Cytolytic Activity of CAR T Cells and Maintenance of Their CD4+ Subset Is Critical for Optimal Antitumor Activity in Preclinical Solid Tumor Models
Cancers 2021, 13(17), 4301; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13174301 - 26 Aug 2021
Viewed by 518
Abstract
Correlative studies of clinical studies for hematological malignancies have implicated that less differentiated, CD8+-dominant CAR T cell products have greater antitumor activity. Here, we have investigated whether the differentiation status of CAR T cell products affects their antitumor activity in preclinical models of [...] Read more.
Correlative studies of clinical studies for hematological malignancies have implicated that less differentiated, CD8+-dominant CAR T cell products have greater antitumor activity. Here, we have investigated whether the differentiation status of CAR T cell products affects their antitumor activity in preclinical models of solid tumors. We explored if different activation/expansion protocols, as well as different co-stimulatory domains in the CAR construct, influence the short- and long-term efficacy of CAR T cells against HER2-positive tumors. We generated T cell products that range from the most differentiated (CD28.z; OKT3-antiCD28/RPMI expansion) to the least differentiated (41BB.z; OKT3-RetroNectin/LymphoONE expansion), as judged by cell surface expression of the differentiation markers CCR7 and CD45RA. While the effect of differentiation status was variable with regard to antigen-specific cytokine production, the most differentiated CD28.z CAR T cell products, which were enriched in effector memory T cells, had the greatest target-specific cytolytic activity in vitro. These products also had a greater proliferative capacity and maintained CD4+ T cells upon repeated stimulation in vitro. In vivo, differentiated CD28.z CAR T cells also had the greatest antitumor activity, resulting in complete response. Our results highlight that it is critical to optimize CAR T cell production and that optimal product characteristics might depend on the targeted antigen and/or cancer. Full article
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Review
Immune-Checkpoint Inhibitors in Platinum-Resistant Ovarian Cancer
Cancers 2021, 13(7), 1663; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13071663 - 01 Apr 2021
Viewed by 791
Abstract
Platinum-resistant ovarian cancer (OC) has limited treatment options and is associated with a poor prognosis. There appears to be an overlap between molecular mechanisms responsible for platinum resistance and immunogenicity in OC. Immunotherapy with single agent checkpoint inhibitors has been evaluated in a [...] Read more.
Platinum-resistant ovarian cancer (OC) has limited treatment options and is associated with a poor prognosis. There appears to be an overlap between molecular mechanisms responsible for platinum resistance and immunogenicity in OC. Immunotherapy with single agent checkpoint inhibitors has been evaluated in a few clinical trials with disappointing results. This has prompted exploration of immunotherapy combination strategies with chemotherapy, anti-angiogenics, poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors and other targeted agents. The role of immunotherapy in the treatment of platinum-resistant OC remains undefined. The aim of this review is to describe the immunobiology of OC and likely benefit from immunotherapy, discuss clinical trial data and biomarkers that warrant further exploration, as well as provide an overview of future drug development strategies. Full article
Review
Talimogene Laherparepvec (T-VEC): An Intralesional Cancer Immunotherapy for Advanced Melanoma
Cancers 2021, 13(6), 1383; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13061383 - 18 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1005
Abstract
Direct intralesional injection of specific or even generic agents, has been proposed over the years as cancer immunotherapy, in order to treat cutaneous or subcutaneous metastasis. Such treatments usually induce an effective control of disease in injected lesions, but only occasionally were able [...] Read more.
Direct intralesional injection of specific or even generic agents, has been proposed over the years as cancer immunotherapy, in order to treat cutaneous or subcutaneous metastasis. Such treatments usually induce an effective control of disease in injected lesions, but only occasionally were able to demonstrate a systemic abscopal effect on distant metastases. The usual availability of tissue for basic and translational research is a plus in utilizing this approach, which has been used in primis for the treatment of locally advanced melanoma. Melanoma is an immunogenic tumor that could often spread superficially causing in-transit metastasis and involving draining lymph nodes, being an interesting model to study new drugs with different modality of administration from normal available routes. Talimogene laherperepvec (T-VEC) is an injectable modified oncolytic herpes virus being developed for intratumoral injection, that produces granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and enhances local and systemic antitumor immune responses. After infection, selected viral replication happens in tumor cells leading to tumor cell lysis and activating a specific T-cell driven immune response. For this reason, a probable synergistic effect with immune checkpoints inhibition have been described. Pre-clinical studies in melanoma confirmed that T-VEC preferentially infects melanoma cells and exerts its antitumor activity through directly mediating cell death and by augmenting local and even distant immune responses. T-VEC has been assessed in monotherapy in Phase II and III clinical trials demonstrating a tolerable side-effect profile, a promising efficacy in both injected and uninjected lesions, but a mild effect at a systemic level. In fact, despite improved local disease control and a trend toward superior overall survival in respect to the comparator GM-CSF (which was injected subcutaneously daily for two weeks), responses as a single agent therapy have been uncommon in patients with visceral metastases. For this reason, T-VEC is currently being evaluated in combinations with other immune checkpoint inhibitors such as ipilimumab and pembrolizumab, with interesting confirmation of activity even systemically. Full article
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Review
Beyond First-Line Immunotherapy: Potential Therapeutic Strategies Based on Different Pattern Progressions: Oligo and Systemic Progression
Cancers 2021, 13(6), 1300; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13061300 - 15 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 723
Abstract
First-line immune-checkpoint inhibitor (ICI)-based therapy has deeply changed the treatment landscape and prognosis in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (aNSCLC) patients with no targetable alterations. Nonetheless, a percentage of patients progressed on ICI as monotherapy or combinations. Open questions remain on patients’ selection, [...] Read more.
First-line immune-checkpoint inhibitor (ICI)-based therapy has deeply changed the treatment landscape and prognosis in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (aNSCLC) patients with no targetable alterations. Nonetheless, a percentage of patients progressed on ICI as monotherapy or combinations. Open questions remain on patients’ selection, the identification of biomarkers of primary resistance to immunotherapy and the treatment strategies to overcome secondary resistance to first-line immunotherapy. Local ablative approaches are the main therapeutic strategies in oligoprogressive disease, and their role is emerging in patients treated with immunotherapy. Many therapeutic strategies can be adapted in aNSCLC patients with systemic progression to personalize the treatment approach according to re-characterization of the tumors, previous ICI response, and type of progression. This review’s aim is to highlight and discuss the current and potential therapeutic approaches beyond first-line ICI-based therapy in aNSCLC patients based on the pattern of disease progression (oligoprogression versus systemic progression). Full article
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Article
Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition Regulates Surface PD-L1 via CMTM6 and CMTM7 Induction in Breast Cancer
Cancers 2021, 13(5), 1165; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13051165 - 09 Mar 2021
Viewed by 994
Abstract
CMTM6 is a critical regulator of cell surface expression of PD-L1 in tumor cells, but little is known about the transcriptional regulation of CMTM6. Here we report that the expression of CMTM6 positively correlates with the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) score in [...] Read more.
CMTM6 is a critical regulator of cell surface expression of PD-L1 in tumor cells, but little is known about the transcriptional regulation of CMTM6. Here we report that the expression of CMTM6 positively correlates with the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) score in breast cancer cell lines and with the major EMT marker Vimentin in triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC). We showed that CMTM6 is concomitantly overexpressed with PD-L1 in breast mesenchymal compared with the epithelial cells. Driving a mesenchymal phenotype in SNAI1-inducible MCF-7 cells (MCF-7Mes cells) increased both PD-L1 and CMTM6. CMTM6 silencing in MCF-7Mes cells partially reduced cell surface expression of PD-L1, indicating that a proportion of the PD-L1 on the surface of MCF-7Mes cells depends on CMTM6. We also found a positive correlation between CMTM3 and CMTM7 expression with EMT score in breast cancer cells, and with Vimentin in TNBC patients. Dual knockdown of CMTM6 and CMTM7 significantly decreased PD-L1 surface expression in MCF-7Mes cells, indicating that both CMTM6 and CMTM7 regulate the expression of PD-L1. This study highlights the importance of CMTM6 and CMTM7 in EMT-induced PD-L1 and suggests that EMT, CMTM6 or CMTM7 modulators can be combined with anti-PD-L1 in patients with highly aggressive breast cancer. Full article
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Article
Inhibition of PI3K Isoform p110γ Increases Both Anti-Tumor and Immunosuppressive Responses to Aggressive Murine Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma with Low Immunogenicity
Cancers 2021, 13(5), 953; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13050953 - 25 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 689
Abstract
HNSCC is the sixth most common cancer, with around 650,000 new cases yearly. Gain of function mutations in the PI3K pathway are common in HNSCC, and inhibition of the PI3K p110γ subunit has shown promise in HNSCC treatment. However, given that PI3K p110γ [...] Read more.
HNSCC is the sixth most common cancer, with around 650,000 new cases yearly. Gain of function mutations in the PI3K pathway are common in HNSCC, and inhibition of the PI3K p110γ subunit has shown promise in HNSCC treatment. However, given that PI3K p110γ plays an important role in myeloid and lymphoid immune cell function, it is essential to understand how PI3K p110γ inhibition affects the anti-tumor immune response independent of tumor cells. To elucidate PI3K p110γ function in HNSCC, we employed an orthotopic mouse model using poorly immunogenic and aggressive cell line MOC2 on Pik3cg−/− mice. We observed that wild-type and Pik3cg−/− mice displayed similar rates of HNSCC tumor growth and metastasis after 20 days following tumor injection. T-cell infiltration and intrinsic T-cell responses to MOC2 oral tumors were comparable between wild-type and Pik3cg−/− mice. Interestingly, the immune response of tumor-bearing Pik3cg−/− mice was marked by increased anti-tumor cytotoxic molecules (IFN-γ, IL-17)) by T-cells and immune checkpoint marker (PD-L1, PD-1) expression by myeloid cells and T-cells compared to tumor-bearing wild-type mice. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that inhibition of PI3K p110γ modulates tumor-associated immune cells, which likely potentiates HNSCC treatment when used in combination with selective checkpoint inhibitors. Full article
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Article
PD-L1 Is an Independent Prognostic Marker in Middle Eastern PTC and Its Expression Is Upregulated by BRAFV600E Mutation
Cancers 2021, 13(3), 555; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13030555 - 01 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 760
Abstract
PD-L1 inhibition is a promising therapeutic target whose efficacy has been demonstrated in several cancers. Immunohistochemistry was performed to assess PD-L1 protein expression in PTC. We further conducted in vitro analysis to investigate the role of PD-L1 in regulating BRAFV600E in PTC cell [...] Read more.
PD-L1 inhibition is a promising therapeutic target whose efficacy has been demonstrated in several cancers. Immunohistochemistry was performed to assess PD-L1 protein expression in PTC. We further conducted in vitro analysis to investigate the role of PD-L1 in regulating BRAFV600E in PTC cell lines. PD-L1 over-expression was noted in 32.4% (473/1458) of cases and significantly associated with aggressive clinico-pathological parameters. Importantly, PD-L1 was found to be an independent poorer prognostic marker. We also found PD-L1 to be significantly associated with BRAF mutation and patients with co-existing PD-L1 over-expression and BRAF mutation had a poor disease-free survival compared to patients with BRAF mutation alone. In vitro analysis showed high expression of PD-L1 in BRAF-mutated PTC cell lines compared to a BRAF wild-type cell line. Inhibition of BRAF using vemurafenib induced PD-L1 expression in BRAF-mutated cell lines without affecting cell growth. Knockdown of PD-L1 in BRAF-mutated cell lines significantly decreased the cell growth and induced apoptosis. Our data suggest that PD-L1 might represent a useful prognostic marker in Middle Eastern PTC and PD-L1 inhibition could be a potential therapeutic option for aggressive PTC cancers, such as the tall cell variant, BRAF mutation-positive patients that are unresponsive to standard treatment. Full article
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Review
The Potential of T Cell Factor 1 in Sustaining CD8+ T Lymphocyte-Directed Anti-Tumor Immunity
Cancers 2021, 13(3), 515; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13030515 - 29 Jan 2021
Viewed by 949
Abstract
T cell factor 1 (TCF1) is a transcription factor that has been highlighted to play a critical role in the promotion of T cell proliferation and maintenance of cell stemness in the embryonic and CD8+ T cell populations. The regulatory nature of [...] Read more.
T cell factor 1 (TCF1) is a transcription factor that has been highlighted to play a critical role in the promotion of T cell proliferation and maintenance of cell stemness in the embryonic and CD8+ T cell populations. The regulatory nature of TCF1 in CD8+ T cells is of great significance, especially within the context of T cell exhaustion, which is linked to the tumor and viral escape in pathological contexts. Indeed, inhibitory signals, such as programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) and cytotoxic-T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4), expressed on exhausted T lymphocytes (TEX), have become major therapeutic targets in immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapy. The significance of TCF1 in the sustenance of CTL-mediated immunity against pathogens and tumors, as well as its recently observed necessity for an effective anti-tumor immune response in ICB therapy, presents TCF1 as a potentially significant biomarker and/or therapeutic target for overcoming CD8+ T cell exhaustion and resistance to ICB therapy. In this review, we aim to outline the recent findings on the role of TCF1 in T cell development and discuss its implications in anti-tumor immunity. Full article
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Review
The Interplay of Exosomes and NK Cells in Cancer Biology
Cancers 2021, 13(3), 473; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13030473 - 26 Jan 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1026
Abstract
Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphoid cells involved in tumor surveillance. These immune cells have the potential to fight cancer growth and metastasis, as such, their deregulation can result in tumor immune escape. Recently exosomes were described as mediators of intercellular communication [...] Read more.
Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphoid cells involved in tumor surveillance. These immune cells have the potential to fight cancer growth and metastasis, as such, their deregulation can result in tumor immune escape. Recently exosomes were described as mediators of intercellular communication between cancer and NK cells. The exact role of this subclass of extracellular vesicles (EVs), which transport genetic and molecular material to recipient cells, in NK cell biology in the context of cancer, is still an open question. Several reports have demonstrated that tumor-derived exosomes (TDEs) can exert immunomodulatory activities, including immunosuppression, thus promoting cancer progression. Some reports demonstrate that the interplay between cancer exosomes and NK cells allows tumors to escape immune regulation. On the other hand, tumor exosomes were also described to activate NK cells. Additionally, studies show that NK cell exosomes can modulate the immune system, opening up their potential as an immunotherapeutic strategy for cancer treatment. Our review will focus on the reprogramming effect of cancer exosomes on NK cells, and the immunotherapeutic potential of NK cells-derived exosomes. Full article
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Review
IFN-γ and CD38 in Hyperprogressive Cancer Development
Cancers 2021, 13(2), 309; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13020309 - 15 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1276
Abstract
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) improve the survival of patients with multiple types of cancer. However, low response rates and atypical responses limit their success in clinical applications. The paradoxical acceleration of tumor growth after treatment, defined as hyperprogressive disease (HPD), is the most [...] Read more.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) improve the survival of patients with multiple types of cancer. However, low response rates and atypical responses limit their success in clinical applications. The paradoxical acceleration of tumor growth after treatment, defined as hyperprogressive disease (HPD), is the most difficult problem facing clinicians and patients alike. The mechanisms that underlie hyperprogression (HP) are still unclear and controversial, although different factors are associated with the phenomenon. In this review, we propose two factors that have not yet been demonstrated to be directly associated with HP, but upon which it is important to focus attention. IFN-γ is a key cytokine in antitumor response and its levels increase during ICI therapy, whereas CD38 is an alternative immune checkpoint that is involved in immunosuppressive responses. As both factors are associated with resistance to ICI therapy, we have discussed their possible involvement in HPD with the conclusion that IFN-γ may contribute to HP onset through the activation of the inflammasome pathway, immunosuppressive enzyme IDO1 and activation-induced cell death (AICD) in effector T cells, while the role of CD38 in HP may be associated with the activation of adenosine receptors, hypoxia pathways and AICD-dependent T-cell depletion. Full article
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2020

Jump to: 2021, 2019

Review
Mechanisms of Immunosuppression in Colorectal Cancer
Cancers 2020, 12(12), 3850; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12123850 - 20 Dec 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 977
Abstract
CRC is the third most diagnosed cancer in the US with the second-highest mortality rate. A multi-modality approach with surgery/chemotherapy is used in patients with early stages of colon cancer. Radiation therapy is added to the armamentarium in patients with locally advanced rectal [...] Read more.
CRC is the third most diagnosed cancer in the US with the second-highest mortality rate. A multi-modality approach with surgery/chemotherapy is used in patients with early stages of colon cancer. Radiation therapy is added to the armamentarium in patients with locally advanced rectal cancer. While some patients with metastatic CRC are cured, the majority remain incurable and receive palliative chemotherapy as the standard of care. Recently, immune checkpoint blockade has emerged as a promising treatment for many solid tumors, including CRC with microsatellite instability. However, it has not been effective for microsatellite stable CRC. Here, main mechanisms of immunosuppression in CRC will be discussed, aiming to provide some insights for restoring immunosurveillance to improve treatment efficacy in CRC. Full article
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Article
The Immune Phenotype of Isolated Lymphoid Structures in Non-Tumorous Colon Mucosa Encrypts the Information on Pathobiology of Metastatic Colorectal Cancer
Cancers 2020, 12(11), 3117; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12113117 - 25 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1939
Abstract
The gut-associated lymphoid tissue represents an integral part of the immune system. Among the powerful players of the mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue are isolated lymphoid structures (ILSs), which as information centers, drive the local (and systemic) adaptive immune responses. Germinal center reactions, taking place [...] Read more.
The gut-associated lymphoid tissue represents an integral part of the immune system. Among the powerful players of the mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue are isolated lymphoid structures (ILSs), which as information centers, drive the local (and systemic) adaptive immune responses. Germinal center reactions, taking place within ILSs, involve the coordinated action of various immune cell types with a central role given to B cells. In the current study, we aimed at dissecting the impact of ILSs within non-tumorous colon tissue (NT) on the pathobiology of colorectal cancer (CRC) with metastasis in the liver (CRCLM). In particular, we focused on the immune phenotypes of ILSs and ectopic lymphoid structures (ELSs), built up at matching primary and metastatic tumor sites. We implemented an integrative analysis strategy on the basis of tissue image cytometry and clonality assessment to explore the immune phenotype of ILS/ELS at three tissue entities: NT, CRC, and CRCLM (69 specimens in total). Applying a panel of lineage markers used for immunostaining, we characterized and compared the anatomical features, the cellular composition, the activation, and proliferation status of ILSs and ELSs, and assessed the clinical relevance of staining-derived data sets. Our major discovery was that ILS characteristics at the NT site predefine the immune phenotype of ELSs at CRC and CRCLM. Thereby, B-cell-enriched (CD20) and highly proliferative (Ki67) ILSs and ELSs were found to be associated with improved clinical outcome in terms of survival and enabled patient stratification into risk groups. Moreover, the data revealed a linkage between B-cell clonality at the NT site and the metastatic characteristics of the tumor in the distant liver tissue. Consolidation of immunostaining-based findings with the results of compendium-wide transcriptomic analysis furthermore proposed CD27 as a novel marker of T follicular helper cells within lymphoid structures. Overall, the study nominates the ILS immune phenotype as a novel prognostic marker for patients with metastatic CRC. Full article
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Article
Specific Effects of Trabectedin and Lurbinectedin on Human Macrophage Function and Fate—Novel Insights
Cancers 2020, 12(10), 3060; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12103060 - 20 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1586
Abstract
Background: Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) play a crucial role in suppressing the immunosurveillance function of the immune system that prevents tumor growth. Indeed, macrophages can also be targeted by different chemotherapeutic agents improving the action over immune checkpoints to fight cancer. Here we describe [...] Read more.
Background: Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) play a crucial role in suppressing the immunosurveillance function of the immune system that prevents tumor growth. Indeed, macrophages can also be targeted by different chemotherapeutic agents improving the action over immune checkpoints to fight cancer. Here we describe the effect of trabectedin and lurbinectedin on human macrophage cell viability and function. Methods: Blood monocytes from healthy donors were differentiated into macrophages and exposed to different stimuli promoting functional polarization and differentiation into tumor-associated macrophages. Cells were challenged with the chemotherapeutic drugs and the effects on cell viability and function were analyzed. Results: Human macrophages exhibit at least two different profiles in response to these drugs. One-fourth of the blood donors assayed (164 individuals) were extremely sensitive to trabectedin and lurbinectedin, which promoted apoptotic cell death. Macrophages from other individuals retained viability but responded to the drugs increasing reactive oxygen production and showing a rapid intracellular calcium rise and a loss of mitochondrial oxygen consumption. Cell-membrane exposure of programmed-death ligand 1 (PD-L1) significantly decreased after treatment with therapeutic doses of these drugs, including changes in the gene expression profile of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1α)-dependent genes, among other. Conclusions: The results provide evidence of additional onco-therapeutic actions for these drugs. Full article
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Review
Mechanisms of T-Cell Exhaustion in Pancreatic Cancer
Cancers 2020, 12(8), 2274; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12082274 - 14 Aug 2020
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 1982
Abstract
T-cell exhaustion is a phenomenon that represents the dysfunctional state of T cells in chronic infections and cancer and is closely associated with poor prognosis in many cancers. The endogenous T-cell immunity and genetically edited cell therapies (CAR-T) failed to prevent tumor immune [...] Read more.
T-cell exhaustion is a phenomenon that represents the dysfunctional state of T cells in chronic infections and cancer and is closely associated with poor prognosis in many cancers. The endogenous T-cell immunity and genetically edited cell therapies (CAR-T) failed to prevent tumor immune evasion. The effector T-cell activity is perturbed by an imbalance between inhibitory and stimulatory signals causing a reprogramming in metabolism and the high levels of multiple inhibitory receptors like programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1), cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4), T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain-containing protein 3 (TIM-3), and Lymphocyte-activation gene 3 (Lag-3). Despite the efforts to neutralize inhibitory receptors by a single agent or combinatorial immune checkpoint inhibitors to boost effector function, PDAC remains unresponsive to these therapies, suggesting that multiple molecular mechanisms play a role in stimulating the exhaustion state of tumor-infiltrating T cells. Recent studies utilizing transcriptomics, mass cytometry, and epigenomics revealed a critical role of Thymocyte selection-associated high mobility group box protein (TOX) genes and TOX-associated pathways, driving T-cell exhaustion in chronic infection and cancer. Here, we will review recently defined molecular, genetic, and cellular factors that drive T-cell exhaustion in PDAC. We will also discuss the effects of available immune checkpoint inhibitors and the latest clinical trials targeting various molecular factors mediating T-cell exhaustion in PDAC. Full article
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Article
RORα Regulates Cholesterol Metabolism of CD8+ T Cells for Anticancer Immunity
Cancers 2020, 12(7), 1733; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12071733 - 29 Jun 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1382
Abstract
Retinoic acid-related orphan receptor α (RORα) functions as a transcription factor for various biological processes, including circadian rhythm, inflammation, cancer, and lipid metabolism. Here, we demonstrate that RORα is crucial for maintaining cholesterol homeostasis in CD8+ T cells by attenuating NF-κB transcriptional [...] Read more.
Retinoic acid-related orphan receptor α (RORα) functions as a transcription factor for various biological processes, including circadian rhythm, inflammation, cancer, and lipid metabolism. Here, we demonstrate that RORα is crucial for maintaining cholesterol homeostasis in CD8+ T cells by attenuating NF-κB transcriptional activity. Cholesterol sulfate, the established natural agonist of RORα, exhibits cellular cytotoxicity on, and increased effector responses in, CD8+ T cells. Transcript analysis reveals that the suppression of RORα leads to the upregulation of NF-κB target genes in T cells. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis was used to determine the corecruitment of RORα and histone deacetylase (HDAC) on NF-κB target promoters and the subsequent dismissal of coactivators for transcriptional repression. We demonstrate that RORα/HDAC-mediated attenuation of NF-κB signaling controls the balance of cholesterol metabolism in CD8+ T cells, and that therapeutic strategies targeting this epigenetic regulation could be beneficial to the treatment of solid tumors including colon cancers. Full article
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Review
Insights into the Molecular Mechanisms Behind Intralesional Immunotherapies for Advanced Melanoma
Cancers 2020, 12(5), 1321; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12051321 - 22 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 904
Abstract
The incidence of cutaneous melanoma, a highly malignant skin cancer, is increasing yearly. While surgical removal of the tumor is the mainstay of treatment for patients with locally confined disease, those with metastases face uncertainty when it comes to their treatment. As melanoma [...] Read more.
The incidence of cutaneous melanoma, a highly malignant skin cancer, is increasing yearly. While surgical removal of the tumor is the mainstay of treatment for patients with locally confined disease, those with metastases face uncertainty when it comes to their treatment. As melanoma is a relatively immunogenic cancer, current guidelines suggest using immunotherapies that can rewire the host immune response to target melanoma tumor cells. Intralesional therapy, where immunomodulatory agents are injected directly into the tumor, are an emerging aspect of treatment for in-transit melanoma because of their ability to mitigate severe off-target immune-related adverse events. However, their immunomodulatory mechanisms are poorly understood. In this review, we will summarize and discuss the different intralesional therapies for metastatic melanoma with respect to their clinical outcomes and immune molecular mechanisms. Full article
Article
Immune Cell Subtypes and Cytokines in Lung Tumor Microenvironment: Influence of COPD
Cancers 2020, 12(5), 1217; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12051217 - 13 May 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1145
Abstract
Background: The immune microenvironment plays a role in tumorigenesis. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an independent risk factor for lung cancer (LC). We hypothesized that immune profile characterized by T regulatory (Treg), natural killer (NK), and plasma cells, as well as interleukin [...] Read more.
Background: The immune microenvironment plays a role in tumorigenesis. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an independent risk factor for lung cancer (LC). We hypothesized that immune profile characterized by T regulatory (Treg), natural killer (NK), and plasma cells, as well as interleukin (IL)-10 and interferon-gamma, may differ within tumors of LC patients with/without COPD. Methods: Treg (anti-CD3 and anti-forkhead boxP3 antibodies), NK (anti-NCR1 antibody), IgG (anti-CD138-IgG antibody), IgA (anti-CD138-IgA antibody) using immunohistochemistry, and both IL-10 and interferon-gamma (ELISA) were quantified in tumor and non-tumor specimens (thoracotomy for lung tumor resection) from 33 LC–COPD patients and 20 LC-only patients. Results: Immune profile in tumor versus non-tumor specimens: Treg cell counts significantly increased in tumors of both LC and LC–COPD patients, while in tumors of the latter group, IgG-secreting plasma cells significantly decreased and IL-10 increased. No significant differences were seen in levels of NK cells, IgA-secreting cells, IgA/IgG, or interferon-gamma. Immune profile in tumors of LC–COPD versus LC: No significant differences were observed in tumors between LC–COPD and LC patients for any study marker. Conclusions: Immune cell subtypes and cytokines are differentially expressed in lung tumors, and the presence of COPD elicited a decline in IgG-secreting plasma cell levels but not in other cell types. Full article
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Review
HPV Involvement in the Tumor Microenvironment and Immune Treatment in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinomas
Cancers 2020, 12(5), 1060; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12051060 - 25 Apr 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 1647
Abstract
Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) are one of the most prevalent cancers worldwide. Active human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has been identified as an important additional risk factor and seems to be associated with a better prognosis in non-drinker and non-smoker young [...] Read more.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) are one of the most prevalent cancers worldwide. Active human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has been identified as an important additional risk factor and seems to be associated with a better prognosis in non-drinker and non-smoker young patients with oropharyngeal SCC. The better response of the immune system against the HPV-induced HNSCC is suspected as a potential explanation for the better prognosis of young patients. To further assess this hypothesis, our review aims to shed light the current knowledge about the impact of HPV infection on the immune response in the context of HNSCC, focusing on the innate immune system, particularly highlighting the role of macrophages, Langerhans and myeloid cells, and on the adaptative immune system, pointing out the involvement of T regulatory, T CD8 and T CD4 lymphocytes. In addition, we also review the preventive (HPV vaccines) and therapeutic (checkpoint inhibitors) strategies against HPV-related HNSCC, stressing the use of anti-CTLA4, PD-L1, PD-L2 antibodies alone and in combination with other agents able to modulate immune responses. Full article
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Review
Association of Steroids Use with Survival in Patients Treated with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Cancers 2020, 12(3), 546; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12030546 - 27 Feb 2020
Cited by 50 | Viewed by 2077
Abstract
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) can elicit toxicities by inhibiting negative regulators of adaptive immunity. Sometimes, management of toxicities may require systemic glucocorticoids. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies to evaluate the correlation between steroids use, overall survival (OS), and [...] Read more.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) can elicit toxicities by inhibiting negative regulators of adaptive immunity. Sometimes, management of toxicities may require systemic glucocorticoids. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies to evaluate the correlation between steroids use, overall survival (OS), and progression-free survival (PFS) in cancer patients treated with ICIs. Publications that compared steroids with non-steroid users in cancer patients treated with ICIs from inception to June 2019 were identified by searching the EMBASE, PubMed, SCOPUS, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases. The pooled hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using a random-effects model. Patients (studies, n = 16; patients, n = 4045) taking steroids were at increased risk of death and progression compared to those not taking steroids (HR = 1.54, 95% CI: 1.24–1.91; p = 0.01 and HR = 1.34, 95% CI: 1.02–1.76; p = 0.03, respectively). The main negative effect on OS was associated with patients taking steroids for supportive care (HR = 2.5, 95% CI 1.41–4.43; p < 0.01) or brain metastases (HR = 1.51, 95% CI 1.22–1.87; p < 0.01). In contrast, steroids used to mitigate adverse events did not negatively affect OS. In conclusion, caution is needed when steroids are used for symptom control. In these patients, a negative impact of steroid use was observed for both OS and PFS. Full article
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Article
Cancer Stem Cell Marker DCLK1 Correlates with Tumorigenic Immune Infiltrates in the Colon and Gastric Adenocarcinoma Microenvironments
Cancers 2020, 12(2), 274; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12020274 - 22 Jan 2020
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 1924
Abstract
Immunotherapy that has proven efficacy in several solid cancers plays a partial role in improving clinical outcomes of advanced gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. There is an unmet need to find new immune-related therapeutic targets. Doublecortin-like kinase 1 (DCLK1) marks tuft cells which are recognized [...] Read more.
Immunotherapy that has proven efficacy in several solid cancers plays a partial role in improving clinical outcomes of advanced gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. There is an unmet need to find new immune-related therapeutic targets. Doublecortin-like kinase 1 (DCLK1) marks tuft cells which are recognized as cancer-initiating cells and regulators of the type II immune response, and has been studied for its role in many cancers including colon and gastric cancers, but its role in tumor immunity remains unexplored. In the current study, we analyzed colon and gastric cancer RNA sequencing data from 283 and 415 patients, respectively, from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). High DCLK1 expression predicted the worse clinical outcomes in colon and gastric cancer patients and correlated with increased immune and stromal components. Further analysis indicated that DCLK1 was strongly linked to infiltration of multiple immune cell types, especially TAMs and Treg, and strongly correlated with increased CD8+ T cell inhibitors TGFB1 and CXCL12 and their receptors, suggesting it may contribute to TAM-mediated inhibition of CD8+ T cells. Interestingly, we found that DCLK1 was a prognostic biomarker in left-sided colon cancer, which has worse outcomes and demonstrates a reduced response to existing immunotherapies. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that DCLK1 is linked with functional regulation of the tumor microenvironment and may have potential as a prognostic biomarker and adjuvant target to promote immunotherapy sensitivity in colon and gastric cancer patients. Full article
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2019

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Article
Is There an Interplay between Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors, Thromboprophylactic Treatments and Thromboembolic Events? Mechanisms and Impact in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients
Cancers 2020, 12(1), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12010067 - 25 Dec 2019
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 1572
Abstract
PD-1 pathway blockade has been shown to promote proatherogenic T-cell responses and destabilization of atherosclerotic plaques. Moreover, preclinical evidence suggests a potential synergy of antiplatelet drugs with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). We conducted an analysis within a prospective observational protocol (APOLLO study) to [...] Read more.
PD-1 pathway blockade has been shown to promote proatherogenic T-cell responses and destabilization of atherosclerotic plaques. Moreover, preclinical evidence suggests a potential synergy of antiplatelet drugs with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). We conducted an analysis within a prospective observational protocol (APOLLO study) to investigate the rates, predictors, and prognostic significance of thromboembolic events (TE) and thromboprophylaxis in patients with advanced NSCLC treated with ICIs. Among 217 patients treated between April 2014 and September 2018, 13.8% developed TE events. Current smoking status (HR 3.61 (95% CI 1.52–8.60), p = 0.004) and high (>50%) PD-L1 (HR 2.55 (95% CI 1.05–6.19), p = 0.038) resulted in being independent TE predictors. An increased risk of death following a diagnosis of TE (HR 2.93; 95% CI 1.59–5.42; p = 0.0006) was observed. Patients receiving antiplatelet treatment experienced longer progression-free survival (PFS) (6.4 vs. 3.4 months, HR 0.67 (95% CI 0.48–0.92), p = 0.015) and a trend toward better OS (11.2 vs. 9.6 months, HR 0.78 (95% CI 0.55–1.09), p = 0.14), which were not confirmed in a multivariate model. No impact of anticoagulant treatment on patients’ outcomes was observed. NSCLC patients treated with ICIs bear a consistent risk for thrombotic complications, with a detrimental effect on survival. The impact of antiplatelet drugs on ICIs efficacy deserves further investigation in prospective trials. Full article
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Article
EPSILoN: A Prognostic Score for Immunotherapy in Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: A Validation Cohort
Cancers 2019, 11(12), 1954; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11121954 - 05 Dec 2019
Cited by 29 | Viewed by 1818
Abstract
Background: Beyond programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1), no other biomarkers for immunotherapy are used in daily practice. We previously created EPSILoN (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status (ECOG PS), smoking, liver metastases, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR)) score, a clinical/biochemical prognostic score, [...] Read more.
Background: Beyond programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1), no other biomarkers for immunotherapy are used in daily practice. We previously created EPSILoN (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status (ECOG PS), smoking, liver metastases, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR)) score, a clinical/biochemical prognostic score, in 154 patients treated with second/further-line immunotherapy. This study’s aim was to validate EPSILoN score in a different population group. Methods: 193 patients were included at National Cancer Institute of Milan (second-line immunotherapy, 61%; further-line immunotherapy, 39%). Clinical/laboratory parameters such as neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio and lactate dehydrogenase levels were collected. Kaplan–Meier and Cox hazard methods were used for survival analysis. Results: Overall median progression-free survival and median overall survival were 2.3 and 7.6 months, respectively. Multivariate analyses for Progression-Free Survival (PFS) identified heavy smokers (hazard ratio (HR) 0.71, p = 0.036) and baseline LDH < 400 mg/dL (HR 0.66, p = 0.026) as independent positive factors and liver metastases (HR 1.48, p = 0.04) and NLR ≥ 4 (HR 1.49, p = 0.029) as negative prognostic factors. These five factors were included in the EPSILoN score which was able to stratify patients in three different prognostic groups, high, intermediate and low, with PFS of 6.0, 3.8 and 1.9 months, respectively (HR 1.94, p < 0.001); high, intermediate and low prognostic groups had overall survival (OS) of 24.5, 8.9 and 3.4 months, respectively (HR 2.40, p < 0.001). Conclusions: EPSILoN, combining five baseline clinical/blood parameters (ECOG PS, smoking, liver metastases, LDH, NLR), may help to identify advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (aNSCLC) patients who most likely benefit from immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). Full article
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Article
The Lung Immune Prognostic Index Discriminates Survival Outcomes in Patients with Solid Tumors Treated with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
Cancers 2019, 11(11), 1713; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11111713 - 02 Nov 2019
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 2109
Abstract
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) have revolutionized the treatment landscape of several solid tumor types. However, as patient outcomes are heterogeneous, clinical tools to aid in prognostication are needed. The Lung Immune Prognostic Index (LIPI) correlates with outcomes in patients with non-small cell lung [...] Read more.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) have revolutionized the treatment landscape of several solid tumor types. However, as patient outcomes are heterogeneous, clinical tools to aid in prognostication are needed. The Lung Immune Prognostic Index (LIPI) correlates with outcomes in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated with ICI, but its applicability beyond NSCLC is poorly defined. We sought to determine whether LIPI is associated with overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS) and objective response rate (ORR) in a pooled, real-world, retrospective cohort of patients with solid tumors treated with ICI. Of the total pooled cohort (N = 578), 47.2%, 38.2% and 14.5% of patients were stratified into good, intermediate and poor LIPI group, respectively. Median OS were 22.8 (95% CI 17.4–29.5), 7.8 (95% CI 6.6–9.6), and 2.5 months (95% CI 1.4–3.4) (p < 0.0001). Median PFS were 9.9 (95% CI 7.2–11.5), 3.6 (95% CI 2.7–4.3), and 1.4 months (95% CI 1.2–2.2) (p < 0.0001). ORR was also associated with LIPI group (p < 0.001). Intermediate and poor LIPI were independently prognostic of OS compared to good LIPI, with hazard ratios (HR) of 1.8 (95% CI 1.4–2.3, p < 0.001) and 3.6 (95% CI 2.5–5.1, p < 0.001), respectively. These data are the first to suggest that in a real-world setting, the prognostic value of LIPI may be tumor agnostic. Full article
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Article
Immunotherapy with Monoclonal Antibodies in Lung Cancer of Mice: Oxidative Stress and Other Biological Events
Cancers 2019, 11(9), 1301; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11091301 - 04 Sep 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1725
Abstract
Background: Lung cancer (LC) is a major leading cause of death worldwide. Immunomodulators that target several immune mechanisms have proven to reduce tumor burden in experimental models through induction of the immune microenvironment. We hypothesized that other biological mechanisms may also favor tumor [...] Read more.
Background: Lung cancer (LC) is a major leading cause of death worldwide. Immunomodulators that target several immune mechanisms have proven to reduce tumor burden in experimental models through induction of the immune microenvironment. We hypothesized that other biological mechanisms may also favor tumor burden reduction in lung cancer-bearing mice treated with immunomodulators. Methods: Tumor weight, area, T cells and tumor growth (immunohistochemistry), oxidative stress, apoptosis, autophagy, and signaling (NF-κB and sirtuin-1) markers were analyzed (immunoblotting) in subcutaneous tumor of BALB/c mice injected with LP07 adenocarcinoma cells treated with monoclonal antibodies (CD-137, CTLA-4, PD-1, and CD-19, N = 9/group) and non-treated control animals. Results: Compared to non-treated cancer mice, in tumors of monoclonal-treated animals, tumor area and weight and ki-67 were significantly reduced, while T cell counts, oxidative stress, apoptosis, autophagy, activated p65, and sirtuin-1 markers were increased. Conclusions: Immunomodulators elicited a reduction in tumor burden (reduced tumor size and weight) through decreased tumor proliferation and increased oxidative stress, apoptosis, autophagy, and signaling markers, which may have interfered with the immune profile of the tumor microenvironment. Future research should be devoted to the elucidation of the specific contribution of each biological mechanism to the reduced tumor burden. Full article
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Article
Effect of Tumor Burden on Tumor Aggressiveness and Immune Modulation in Prostate Cancer: Association with IL-6 Signaling
Cancers 2019, 11(7), 992; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11070992 - 16 Jul 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1262
Abstract
Local treatment is known to improve survival in men with locally advanced prostate cancer (LAPC), but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In the present study, we examined the role of tumor burden in tumor aggressiveness, as well as the pathway responsible for these [...] Read more.
Local treatment is known to improve survival in men with locally advanced prostate cancer (LAPC), but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In the present study, we examined the role of tumor burden in tumor aggressiveness, as well as the pathway responsible for these changes. We used human and murine prostate cancer cell lines to examine the role of tumor burden in tumor aggressiveness, as well as its correlation with cancer stem cell (CSC) marker levels and IL-6 signaling. Furthermore, 167 prostate cancer biopsy specimens were analyzed in terms of correlations of IL-6 and CD44 levels with clinical patient characteristics. Data from preclinical models showed that larger tumor burden was associated with more aggressive tumor growth associated and increased CD44 expression. Using cellular experiments and orthotopic tumor models, we showed that CD44+ prostate cancer cells have CSC-like properties, enhanced epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT), and a more immunosuppressive microenvironment. There was a significant correlation between IL-6 and CD44 levels based on in vitro testing of clinical samples. Blockade of IL-6/STAT3 signaling attenuated the expression of CD44, CSC-like properties, and aggressive tumor behavior in vitro and in vivo. In conclusion, CD44 expression is significantly associated with tumor aggressiveness in prostate cancer and activation of IL-6 signaling leads to a suitable microenvironment for the induction of CD44 expression. Based on our study, reduced tumor burden was associated with attenuated IL-6 signaling and augmented tumor rejection in the microenvironment, which might mediate the benefit of clinical adoption with aggressive local therapy. Full article
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