Purpose: Previous studies demonstrate that intratumoral CpG immunotherapy in combination with radiotherapy acts as an in-situ vaccine inducing antitumor immune responses capable of eradicating systemic disease. Unfortunately, most patients fail to respond. We hypothesized that immunotherapy can paradoxically upregulate immunosuppressive pathways, a phenomenon we term “rebound immune suppression,” limiting clinical responses. We further hypothesized that the immunosuppressive enzyme indolamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is a mechanism of rebound immune suppression and that IDO blockade would improve immunotherapy efficacy.
Experimental Design: We examined the efficacy and immunologic effects of a novel triple therapy consisting of local radiotherapy, intratumoral CpG, and systemic IDO blockade in murine models and a pilot canine clinical trial.
Results: In murine models, we observed marked increase in intratumoral IDO expression after treatment with radiotherapy, CpG, or other immunotherapies. The addition of IDO blockade to radiotherapy + CpG decreased IDO activity, reduced tumor growth, and reduced immunosuppressive factors, such as regulatory T cells in the tumor microenvironment. This triple combination induced systemic antitumor effects, decreasing metastases, and improving survival in a CD8+ T-cell–dependent manner. We evaluated this novel triple therapy in a canine clinical trial, because spontaneous canine malignancies closely reflect human cancer. Mirroring our mouse studies, the therapy was well tolerated, reduced intratumoral immunosuppression, and induced robust systemic antitumor effects.
Conclusion: These results suggest that IDO maintains immune suppression in the tumor after therapy, and IDO blockade promotes a local antitumor immune response with systemic consequences. The efficacy and limited toxicity of this strategy are attractive for clinical translation. Clin Cancer Res; 1–13. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Clinical Cancer Research Online (http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received December 18, 2015.
- Revision received February 25, 2016.
- Accepted February 28, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.