Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research

Lenalidomide Enhances Immune Checkpoint Blockade-Induced Immune Response in Multiple Myeloma.

PMID 25979485


PD-1/PD-L1 signaling promotes tumor growth while inhibiting effector cell-mediated antitumor immune responses. Here, we assessed the impact of single and dual blockade of PD-1/PD-L1, alone or in combination with lenalidomide, on accessory and immune cell function as well as multiple myeloma cell growth in the bone marrow (BM) milieu. Surface expression of PD-1 on immune effector cells, and PD-L1 expression on CD138(+) multiple myeloma cells and myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) were determined in BM from newly diagnosed (ND) multiple myeloma and relapsed/refractory (RR) multiple myeloma versus healthy donor (HD). We defined the impact of single and dual blockade of PD-1/PD-L1, alone and with lenalidomide, on autologous anti-multiple myeloma immune response and tumor cell growth. Both ND and RR patient multiple myeloma cells have increased PD-L1 mRNA and surface expression compared with HD. There is also a significant increase in PD-1 expression on effector cells in multiple myeloma. Importantly, PD-1/PD-L1 blockade abrogates BM stromal cell (BMSC)-induced multiple myeloma growth, and combined blockade of PD-1/PD-L1 with lenalidomide further inhibits BMSC-induced tumor growth. These effects are associated with induction of intracellular expression of IFNγ and granzyme B in effector cells. Importantly, PD-L1 expression in multiple myeloma is higher on MDSC than on antigen-presenting cells, and PD-1/PD-L1 blockade inhibits MDSC-mediated multiple myeloma growth. Finally, lenalidomide with PD-1/PD-L1 blockade inhibits MDSC-mediated immune suppression. Our data therefore demonstrate that checkpoint signaling plays an important role in providing the tumor-promoting, immune-suppressive microenvironment in multiple myeloma, and that PD-1/PD-L1 blockade induces anti-multiple myeloma immune response that can be enhanced by lenalidomide, providing the framework for clinical evaluation of combination therapy.