Network-based screening identifies sitagliptin as an antitumor drug targeting dendritic cells

March, 03, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Dendritic cell (DC)-mediated antigen presentation is essential for the priming and activation of tumor-specific T cells. However, few drugs that specifically manipulate DC functions are available. The identification of drugs targeting DC holds great promise for cancer immunotherapy.


We observed that type 1 conventional DCs (cDC1s) initiated a distinct transcriptional program during antigen presentation. We used a network-based approach to screen for cDC1-targeting therapeutics. The antitumor potency and underlying mechanisms of the candidate drug were investigated in vitro and in vivo.


Sitagliptin, an oral gliptin widely used for type 2 diabetes, was identified as a drug that targets DCs. In mouse models, sitagliptin inhibited tumor growth by enhancing cDC1-mediated antigen presentation, leading to better T-cell activation. Mechanistically, inhibition of dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) by sitagliptin prevented the truncation and degradation of chemokines/cytokines that are important for DC activation. Sitagliptin enhanced cancer immunotherapy by facilitating the priming of antigen-specific T cells by DCs. In humans, the use of sitagliptin correlated with a lower risk of tumor recurrence in patients with colorectal cancer undergoing curative surgery.


Our findings indicate that sitagliptin-mediated DPP4 inhibition promotes antitumor immune response by augmenting cDC1 functions. These data suggest that sitagliptin can be repurposed as an antitumor drug targeting DC, which provides a potential strategy for cancer immunotherapy.

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