The local immune landscape determines tumor PD-L1 heterogeneity and sensitivity to therapy - Published on 06 06 2019
2019 May 21;130. pii: 127726. doi: 10.1172/JCI127726.

The local immune landscape determines tumor PD-L1 heterogeneity and sensitivity to therapy.


PD-L1 is a promising therapeutic target in aggressive cancers. However, immune landscapes and cancer hallmarks of human PD-L1+ tumors, as well as their roles in determining therapeutic efficacies are unknown. Here we identified, in detailed studies of gene data regarding 9769 patients of 32 types of human cancers, that PD-L1 could not exclusively represent IFN-γ signature and potentially signified pro-inflammatory myeloid responses in a tumor. PD-L1 heterogeneity endowed by local immune landscapes controlled cancer hallmarks and clinical outcomes of patients. Mechanically, NF-κB signal elicited by macrophage inflammatory responses generated PD-L1+ cancer cells exhibiting capabilities to aggressively survive, support angiogenesis, and metastasize, whereas STAT1 signal triggered by activated T cells induced PD-L1+ cancer cells susceptive to apoptosis. Importantly, PD-L1+ cancer cells generated by macrophages established great resistance to conventional chemotherapy, cytotoxicity of tumor-specific effector T cells, and therapy of immune checkpoint blockade. Therapeutic strategy combining immune checkpoint blockade with macrophage depletion or NF-κB inhibition in vivo effectively and successfully elicited caner regression. Our results provide insight into the functional features of PD-L1+ tumors and suggest that strategies to influence functional activities of inflammatory cells may benefit immune checkpoint blockade therapy.


Cancer immunotherapy; Immunology; Inflammation

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This French program is organized by ITMO Cancer, in collaboration with ITMO BCDE (Cell Biology, Development and Evolution) and ITMO Technologies for Health of the National Alliance for Life Sciences and Health (AVIESAN) with the National Cancer Institute (INCA) and Inserm within the framework of the Cancer Plan. Operational management is entrusted to Inserm.
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