Type III interferon inhibits bladder cancer progression by reprogramming macrophage-mediated phagocytosis and orchestrating effective immune responses

April, 04, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Interferons (IFNs) are essential for activating an effective immune response and play a central role in immunotherapy-mediated immune cell reactivation for tumor regression. Type III IFN (), related to type I IFN (α), plays a crucial role in infections, autoimmunity, and cancer. However, the direct effects of IFN- on the tumor immune microenvironment have not been thoroughly investigated.


We used mouse MB49 bladder tumor models, constructed a retroviral vector expressing mouse IFN-3, and transduced tumor cells to evaluate the antitumor action of IFN-3 in immune-proficient tumors and T cell-deficient tumors. Furthermore, human bladder cancer samples (cohort 1, n=15) were used for immunohistochemistry and multiplex immunoflurescence analysis to assess the expression pattern of IFN-3 in human bladder cancer and correlate it with immune cells’ infiltration. Immunohistochemistry analysis was performed in neoadjuvant immunotherapy cohort (cohort 2, n=20) to assess the correlation between IFN-3 expression and the pathological complete response rate.


In immune-proficient tumors, ectopic Ifnl3 expression in tumor cells significantly increased the infiltration of cytotoxic CD8+ T cells, Th1 cells, natural killer cells, proinflammatory macrophages, and dendritic cells, but reduced neutrophil infiltration. Transcriptomic analyses revealed significant upregulation of many genes associated with effective immune response, including lymphocyte recruitment, activation, and phagocytosis, consistent with increased antitumor immune infiltrates and tumor inhibition. Furthermore, IFN-3 activity sensitized immune-proficient tumors to anti-PD-1/PD-L1 blockade. In T cell-deficient tumors, increased Ly6GLy6C+I-A/I-E+ macrophages still enhanced tumor cell phagocytosis in Ifnl3 overexpressing tumors. IFN-3 is expressed by tumor and stromal cells in human bladder cancer, and high IFN-3 expression was positively associated with effector immune infiltrates and the efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade therapy.


Our study indicated that IFN-3 enables macrophage-mediated phagocytosis and antitumor immune responses and suggests a rationale for using Type III IFN as a predictive biomarker and potential immunotherapeutic candidate for bladder cancer.

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