Foxp3 + Regulatory T Cell Depletion after Nonablative Oligofractionated Irradiation Boosts the Abscopal Effects in Murine Malignant Mesothelioma

Journal of Immunology 2020 September 18 [Link]

Mikihiro Kohno, Junichi Murakami, Licun Wu, Mei-Lin Chan, Zhihong Yun, B C John Cho, Marc de Perrot


Increasing evidence indicates that local hypofractionated radiotherapy (LRT) can elicit both immunogenic and immunosuppressive local and systemic immune responses. We thus hypothesized that blockade of LRT-induced immunosuppressive responses could augment the antitumor effects and induce an abscopal response. In this study, we found that the upregulation of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) in the mesothelioma tumor microenvironment after nonablative oligofractionated irradiation significantly limited the success of irradiation. Using DEREG mice, which allow conditional and efficient depletion of Foxp3+ Tregs by diphtheria toxin injection, we observed that transient Foxp3+ Treg depletion immediately after nonablative oligofractionated irradiation provided synergistic local control and biased the T cell repertoire toward central and effector memory T cells, resulting in long-term cure. Furthermore, this combination therapy showed significant abscopal effect on the nonirradiated tumors in a concomitant model of mesothelioma through systemic activation of cytotoxic T cells and enhanced production of IFN-γ and granzyme B. Although local control was preserved with one fraction of nonablative irradiation, three fractions were required to generate the abscopal effect. PD-1 and CTLA-4 were upregulated on tumor-infiltrating CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in irradiated and nonirradiated tumors, suggesting that immune checkpoint inhibitors could be beneficial after LRT and Foxp3+ Treg depletion. Our findings are applicable to the strategy of immuno-radiotherapy for generating optimal antitumor immune responses in the clinical setting. Targeting Tregs immediately after a short course of irradiation could have a major impact on the local response to irradiation and its abscopal effect.