Targeting myeloid cells in the tumor microenvironment enhances vaccine efficacy in murine epithelial ovarian cancer.

PMID 25888637


Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is typically diagnosed at advanced stages, and is associated with a high relapse rate. Patients in remission are ideal candidates for immunotherapy aimed at cure or prolonging disease-free periods. However, immunosuppressive pathways in the tumor microenvironment are obstacles to durable anti-tumor immunity. In a metastatic syngeneic mouse model of EOC, immunosuppressive macrophages and myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) accumulate in the local tumor environment. In addition, resident peritoneal macrophages from non-tumor-bearing mice were highly immunosuppressive, abrogating stimulated T cell proliferation in a cell contact-dependent manner. Immunization with microparticles containing TLR9 and NOD-2 ligands (MIS416) significantly prolonged survival in tumor-bearing mice. The strategy of MIS416 immunization followed by anti-CD11b administration further delayed tumor progression, thereby establishing the proof of principle that myeloid depletion can enhance vaccine efficacy. In patients with advanced EOC, ascites analysis showed substantial heterogeneity in the relative proportions of myeloid subsets and their immunosuppressive properties. Together, these findings point to immunosuppressive myeloid cells in the EOC microenvironment as targets to enhance vaccination. Further studies of myeloid cell accumulation and functional phenotypes in the EOC microenvironment may identify patients who are likely to benefit from vaccination combined with approaches that deplete tumor-associated myeloid cells.