Cellular immune suppression in cancer patients and its implication for dendritic cell therapy.
J Clin Oncol 27:15s, 2009 (suppl; abstr 3028)
Background: The treatment of human cancer with monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MoDC) is a promising and innovative approach. However, many of the treated patients fail to respond to therapy. The reduced clinical antitumor response may be due to an inflammatory immune-suppressive tumor microenvironment. Regulatory T-cells (T-reg) and other cells with suppressive potential can promote an immune suppressive tumor microenvironment and thus play an important role in regulation of the immune response. Methods: Whole blood from n=100 cancer patients with various tumor types and from n=30 healthy donors were analysed by flow cytometry. CD4+ lymphocytes with immune suppressive potential were characterized by analysing the expression of CD25, CD39, CD127. Results: We found a significantly higher proportion of CD25+/CD39+ and of CD25+/CD127low T-helper cells in the blood of cancer patients as compared to healthy donors. This may indicate two different types of T-reg involved in immune suppression in cancer patients. Treatment of patients with metronomic chemotherapy induced a down-regulation of these cells. Interestingly, we found a subpopulation of cells within the lymphocyte gate characterized by CD2high and CD86 expression in cancer patients with very advanced stage, similar to such normally found in hemaphagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) patients characterized by exceeding high plasma concentration of IFN-g and IL-10 (Schneider et al. 2002). These cells can be down-regulated by treatment with a tetradecapeptide (Ezrin) known to act as an immune modulator with anti-viral activity leading to reduction of inflammatory cytokines. Conclusions: An efficient induction of a clinical antitumor response requires both a polarization of MoDC in a TH1 direction as well as changing an immune suppressive tumor microenvironment. For the first time, we identified HLH associated cells in advanced cancer patients. As HLH is characterized by hyperinflammation, these cells may indicate an inflammatory tumor microenvironment. Thus, anti-inflammatory therapy should be considered as co-treatment with immunotherapy with dendritic cells for down-regulation of immune suppressive cells (T-reg, CD2high/CD86+ cells) to promote a clinical antitumor response.