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Journal of translational medicine

Melanoma expression of matrix metalloproteinase-23 is associated with blunted tumor immunity and poor responses to immunotherapy.


PMID 25491880

Abstract

Matrix metalloproteinase-23 (MMP-23) can block the voltage-gated potassium channel Kv1.3, whose function is important for sustained Ca(2+) signaling during T cell activation. MMP-23 may also alter T cell activity and phenotype through cleavage of proteins affecting cytokine and chemokine signaling. We therefore tested the hypothesis that MMP-23 can negatively regulate the anti-tumor T cell response in human melanoma. We characterized MMP-23 expression in primary melanoma patients who received adjuvant immunotherapy. We examined the association of MMP-23 with the anti-tumor immune response - as assessed by the prevalence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells. Further, we examined the association between MMP-23 expression and response to immunotherapy. Considering also an in trans mechanism, we examined the association of melanoma MMP-23 and melanoma Kv1.3 expression. Our data revealed an inverse association between primary melanoma MMP-23 expression and the anti-tumor T cell response, as demonstrated by decreased tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) (P = 0.05), in particular brisk TILs (P = 0.04), and a trend towards an increased proportion of immunosuppressive Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (P = 0.07). High melanoma MMP-23 expression is also associated with recurrence in patients treated with immune biologics (P = 0.037) but not in those treated with vaccines (P = 0.64). Further, high melanoma MMP-23 expression is associated with shorter periods of progression-free survival for patients receiving immune biologics (P = 0.025). On the other hand, there is no relationship between melanoma MMP-23 and melanoma Kv1.3 expression (P = 0.27). Our data support a role for MMP-23 as a potential immunosuppressive target in melanoma, as well as a possible biomarker for informing melanoma immunotherapies.