Attenuated Listeria monocytogenes reprograms M2-polarized tumor-associated macrophages in ovarian cancer leading to iNOS-mediated tumor cell lysis.

PMID 25083323


A principal mechanism by which tumors evade immune-mediated elimination is through immunosuppression. Previous approaches to tumor immunotherapy have focused on modifying the immunosuppressive environment with immune checkpoint inhibitors, cytokine therapy, and other modalities with the intent to generate T-cell based anti-tumor immunity. We hypothesized that transformation of the suppressive ovarian cancer microenvironment could be achieved by introduction of the attenuated ΔactA/ΔinlB strain of Listeria monocytogenes. ΔactA/ΔinlB introduced into the microenvironment of the aggressive ID8-Defb29/Vegf-A murine ovarian carcinoma is preferentially phagocytosed by tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) and reprograms that population from one of suppression to immunostimulation. TAMs in the peritoneum upregulated their co-stimulatory molecules CD80 and CD86, increased transcription of inflammatory cytokines, and downregulated transcription of suppressive effector molecules. Surprisingly, therapeutic benefit was not mediated by T- or NK-cell activity. ΔactA/ΔinlB-induced repolarization of TAMs activated direct tumor cell lysis via Nos2 production of nitric oxide. Modulation of the immunosuppressive nature of the ID8-Defb29/Vegf-A microenvironment, specifically by reprogramming of the TAM suppressive population from M2 to M1 polarization, is critical for our observed immune-mediated survival benefit.