Pyroptosis activates conventional type I dendritic cells to mediate the priming of highly functional anticancer T cells

April, 04, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Initiation of antitumor immunity is reliant on the stimulation of dendritic cells (DCs) to present tumor antigens to naïve T cells and generate effector T cells that can kill cancer cells. Induction of immunogenic cell death after certain types of cytotoxic anticancer therapies can stimulate T cell-mediated immunity. However, cytotoxic therapies simultaneously activate multiple types of cellular stress and programmed cell death; hence, it remains unknown what types of cancer cell death confer superior antitumor immunity.


Murine cancer cells were engineered to activate apoptotic or pyroptotic cell death after Dox-induced expression of procell death proteins. Cell-free supernatants were collected to measure secreted danger signals, cytokines, and chemokines. Tumors were formed by transplanting engineered tumor cells to specifically activate apoptosis or pyroptosis in established tumors and the magnitude of immune response measured by flow cytometry. Tumor growth was measured using calipers to estimate end point tumor volumes for Kaplan-Meier survival analysis.


We demonstrated that, unlike apoptosis, pyroptosis induces an immunostimulatory secretome signature. In established tumors pyroptosis preferentially activated CD103+ and XCR1+ type I conventional DCs (cDC1) along with a higher magnitude and functionality of tumor-specific CD8+ T cells and reduced number of regulatory T cells within the tumor. Depletion of cDC1 or CD4+ and CD8+ T cells ablated the antitumor response leaving mice susceptible to a tumor rechallenge.


Our study highlights that distinct types of cell death yield varying immunotherapeutic effect and selective activation of pyroptosis can be used to potentiate multiple aspects of the anticancer immunity cycle.

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