Tumor-targeted therapy with BRAF-inhibitor recruits activated dendritic cells to promote tumor immunity in melanoma

April, 04, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Tumor-targeted therapy causes impressive tumor regression, but the emergence of resistance limits long-term survival benefits in patients. Little information is available on the role of the myeloid cell network, especially dendritic cells (DC) during tumor-targeted therapy.


Here, we investigated therapy-mediated immunological alterations in the tumor microenvironment (TME) and tumor-draining lymph nodes (LN) in the D4M.3A preclinical melanoma mouse model (harboring the V-Raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B (BRAF)V600E mutation) by using high-dimensional multicolor flow cytometry in combination with multiplex immunohistochemistry. This was complemented with RNA sequencing and cytokine quantification to characterize the immune status of the tumors. The importance of T cells during tumor-targeted therapy was investigated by depleting CD4+ or CD8+ T cells in tumor-bearing mice. Tumor antigen-specific T-cell responses were characterized by performing in vivo T-cell proliferation assays and the contribution of conventional type 1 DC (cDC1) to T-cell immunity during tumor-targeted therapy was assessed using Batf3–/– mice lacking cDC1.


Our findings reveal that BRAF-inhibitor therapy increased tumor immunogenicity, reflected by an upregulation of genes associated with immune activation. The T cell-inflamed TME contained higher numbers of activated cDC1 and cDC2 but also inflammatory CCR2-expressing monocytes. At the same time, tumor-targeted therapy enhanced the frequency of migratory, activated DC subsets in tumor-draining LN. Even more, we identified a cDC2 population expressing the Fc gamma receptor I (FcRI)/CD64 in tumors and LN that displayed high levels of CD40 and CCR7 indicating involvement in T cell-mediated tumor immunity. The importance of cDC2 is underlined by just a partial loss of therapy response in a cDC1-deficient mouse model. Both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were essential for therapy response as their respective depletion impaired therapy success. On resistance development, the tumors reverted to an immunologically inert state with a loss of DC and inflammatory monocytes together with the accumulation of regulatory T cells. Moreover, tumor antigen-specific CD8+ T cells were compromised in proliferation and interferon–production.


Our results give novel insights into the remodeling of the myeloid landscape by tumor-targeted therapy. We demonstrate that the transient immunogenic tumor milieu contains more activated DC. This knowledge has important implications for the development of future combinatorial therapies.

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