Second-generation checkpoint inhibitors and Treg depletion synergize with a mouse cancer vaccine in accordance with tumor microenvironment characterization

July, 07, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Despite advances in checkpoint inhibitor (CPI) therapy for cancer treatment, many cancers remain resistant. Tumors deemed “cold” based on lack of T cell infiltration show reduced potential for CPI therapy. Cancer vaccines may overcome the inadequacy of existing T cells by inducing the needed antitumor T cell response to synergize with CPIs and overcome resistance.


CT26 and TC1 tumor cells were injected subcutaneously into mice. Mice were treated with combinations of CPIs alone or a cancer vaccine specific to the tumor antigen E7 present in TC1 cells. CPIs for the TC1 model were selected because of immunophenotyping TC1 tumors. Antitumor and protumor immunity, tumor size and survival, sequence and timing of vaccine and CPI administration, and efficacy of treatment in young and aged mice were probed.


While “hot” CT26 tumors are treatable with combinations of second-generation CPIs alone or with anti-TGFβ, “cold” TC1 tumor reduction requires the synergy of a tumor-antigen-specific vaccine in combination with two CPIs, anti-TIGIT and anti-PD-L1, predicted by tumor microenvironment (TME) characterization. The synergistic triple combination delays tumor growth better than any pairwise combination and improves survival in a CD8+T cell-dependent manner. Depletion of CD4+T cells improved the treatment response, and depleting regulatory T cells (Treg) revealed Tregs to be inhibiting the response as also predicted from TME analysis. We found the sequence of CPI and vaccine administration dictates the success of the treatment, and the triple combination administered concurrently induces the highest E7-specific T cell response. Contrary to young mice, in aged mice, the cancer vaccine alone is ineffective, requiring the CPIs to delay tumor growth.


These findings show how pre-existing or vaccine-mediated de novo T cell responses can both be amplified by and facilitate synergistic CPIs and Treg depletion that together lead to greater survival, and how analysis of the TME can help rationally design combination therapies and precision medicine to enhance clinical response to CPI and cancer vaccine therapy.

For Additional News from OncWeekly – Your Front Row Seat To The Future of Cancer Care –




Sign up for our emails

Trusted insights straight to your inbox and get the latest updates from OncWeekly

Privacy Policy