Respiratory complex I regulates dendritic cell maturation in explant model of human tumor immune microenvironment

April, 04, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Combining cytotoxic chemotherapy or novel anticancer drugs with T-cell modulators holds great promise in treating advanced cancers. However, the response varies depending on the tumor immune microenvironment (TIME). Therefore, there is a clear need for pharmacologically tractable models of the TIME to dissect its influence on mono- and combination treatment response at the individual level.


Here we establish a patient-derived explant culture (PDEC) model of breast cancer, which retains the immune contexture of the primary tumor, recapitulating cytokine profiles and CD8+T cell cytotoxic activity.


We explored the immunomodulatory action of a synthetic lethal BCL2 inhibitor venetoclax+metformin drug combination ex vivo, discovering metformin cannot overcome the lymphocyte-depleting action of venetoclax. Instead, metformin promotes dendritic cell maturation through inhibition of mitochondrial complex I, increasing their capacity to co-stimulate CD4+T cells and thus facilitating antitumor immunity.


Our results establish PDECs as a feasible model to identify immunomodulatory functions of anticancer drugs in the context of patient-specific TIME.

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