Systemic blockade of transforming growth factor-beta signaling augments the efficacy of immunogene therapy

Cancer Research. 2008 Dec 15;68(24):10247-56. [Link]

Kim S, Buchlis G, Fridlender ZG, Sun J, Kapoor V, Cheng G, Haas A, Cheung HK, Zhang X, Corbley M, Kaiser LR, Ling L, Albelda SM.

Thoracic Oncology Research Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6160, USA.


Locally produced transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) promotes tumor-induced immunosuppression and contributes to resistance to immunotherapy. This article explores the potential for increased efficacy when combining immunotherapies with TGF-beta suppression using the TGF-beta type I receptor kinase inhibitor SM16. Adenovirus expressing IFN-beta (Ad.IFN-beta) was injected intratumorally once in established s.c. AB12 (mesothelioma) and LKR (lung cancer) tumors or intratracheally in a Kras orthotopic lung tumor model. Mice bearing TC1 (lung cancer) tumors were vaccinated with two injections of adenovirus expressing human papillomavirus-E7 (HPV-E7; Ad.E7). SM16 was administered orally in formulated chow. Tumor growth was assessed and cytokine expression and cell populations were measured in tumors and spleens by real-time PCR and flow cytometry. SM16 potentiated the efficacy of both immunotherapies in each of the models and caused changes in the tumor microenvironment. The combination of SM16 and Ad.IFN-beta increased the number of intratumoral leukocytes (including macrophages, natural killer cells, and CD8(+) cells) and increased the percentage of T cells expressing the activation marker CD25. SM16 also augmented the antitumor effects of Ad.E7 in the TC1 flank tumor model. The combination did not increase HPV-E7 tetramer-positive CD8(+) T cells in the spleens but did induce a marked increase in the tumors. Tumors from SM16-treated mice showed increased mRNA and protein for immunostimulatory cytokines and chemokines, as well as endothelial adhesion molecules, suggesting a mechanism for the increased intratumoral leukocyte trafficking. Blockade of the TGF-beta signaling pathway augments the antitumor effects of Ad.IFN-beta immune-activating or Ad.E7 vaccination therapy. The addition of TGF-beta blocking agents in clinical trials of immunotherapies may increase efficacy.