Blocking senescence and tolerogenic function of dendritic cells induced by {gamma}{delta} Treg cells enhances tumor-specific immunity for cancer immunotherapy

April, 04, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Regulatory T (Treg) cells are a key component in maintaining the suppressive tumor microenvironment and immune suppression in different types of cancers. A precise understanding of the molecular mechanisms used by Treg cells for immune suppression is critical for the development of effective strategies for cancer immunotherapy.


Senescence development and tolerogenic functions of dendritic cells (DCs) induced by breast cancer tumor-derived Treg cells were fully characterized using real-time PCR, flow cytometry, western blot, and functional assays. Loss-of-function strategies with pharmacological inhibitor and/or neutralizing antibody were used to identify the potential molecule(s) and pathway(s) involved in DC senescence and dysfunction induced by Treg cells. Impaired tumor antigen HER2-specific recognition and immune response of senescent DCs induced by Treg cells were explored in vitro and in vivo in humanized mouse models. In addition, the DC-based HER2 tumor vaccine immunotherapy in breast cancer models was performed to explore the enhanced antitumor immunity via prevention of DC senescence through blockages of STAT3 and programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) signaling.


We showed that tumor-derived Treg cells promote the development of senescence in DCs with tolerogenic functions in breast cancer. Senescent DCs induced by Treg cells suppress Th1 and Th17 cell differentiation but promote the development of Treg cells. In addition, we demonstrated that PD-L1 and STAT3 signaling pathways are critical and involved in senescence induction in DCs mediated by tumor-derived Treg cells. Importantly, our complementary in vivo studies further demonstrated that blockages of PD-L1 and/or STAT3 signaling can prevent Treg-induced senescence and reverse tolerogenic functions in DCs, resulting in enhanced HER2 tumor-specific immune responses and immunotherapy efficacy in human breast cancer models.


These studies not only dissect the suppressive mechanism mediated by tumor-derived Treg cells on DCs in the tumor microenvironment but also provide novel strategies to prevent senescence and dysfunction in DCs and enhance antitumor efficacy mediated by tumor-specific T cells for cancer immunotherapy.

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