American Association for Cancer Research
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Supplementary Figure S3 from NOX4 Inhibition Potentiates Immunotherapy by Overcoming Cancer-Associated Fibroblast-Mediated CD8 T-cell Exclusion from Tumors

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posted on 2023-03-31, 03:24 authored by Kirsty Ford, Christopher J. Hanley, Massimiliano Mellone, Cedric Szyndralewiez, Freddy Heitz, Philippe Wiesel, Oliver Wood, Maria Machado, Maria-Antoinette Lopez, Anusha-Preethi Ganesan, Chuan Wang, Ankur Chakravarthy, Tim R. Fenton, Emma V. King, Pandurangan Vijayanand, Christian H. Ottensmeier, Aymen Al-Shamkhani, Natalia Savelyeva, Gareth J. Thomas

Supplementary Figure S3


Cancer Research UK



Determining mechanisms of resistance to αPD-1/PD-L1 immune-checkpoint immunotherapy is key to developing new treatment strategies. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) have many tumor-promoting functions and promote immune evasion through multiple mechanisms, but as yet, no CAF-specific inhibitors are clinically available. Here we generated CAF-rich murine tumor models (TC1, MC38, and 4T1) to investigate how CAFs influence the immune microenvironment and affect response to different immunotherapy modalities [anticancer vaccination, TC1 (HPV E7 DNA vaccine), αPD-1, and MC38] and found that CAFs broadly suppressed response by specifically excluding CD8+ T cells from tumors (not CD4+ T cells or macrophages); CD8+ T-cell exclusion was similarly present in CAF-rich human tumors. RNA sequencing of CD8+ T cells from CAF-rich murine tumors and immunochemistry analysis of human tumors identified significant upregulation of CTLA-4 in the absence of other exhaustion markers; inhibiting CTLA-4 with a nondepleting antibody overcame the CD8+ T-cell exclusion effect without affecting Tregs. We then examined the potential for CAF targeting, focusing on the ROS-producing enzyme NOX4, which is upregulated by CAF in many human cancers, and compared this with TGFβ1 inhibition, a key regulator of the CAF phenotype. siRNA knockdown or pharmacologic inhibition [GKT137831 (Setanaxib)] of NOX4 “normalized” CAF to a quiescent phenotype and promoted intratumoral CD8+ T-cell infiltration, overcoming the exclusion effect; TGFβ1 inhibition could prevent, but not reverse, CAF differentiation. Finally, NOX4 inhibition restored immunotherapy response in CAF-rich tumors. These findings demonstrate that CAF-mediated immunotherapy resistance can be effectively overcome through NOX4 inhibition and could improve outcome in a broad range of cancers. NOX4 is critical for maintaining the immune-suppressive CAF phenotype in tumors. Pharmacologic inhibition of NOX4 potentiates immunotherapy by overcoming CAF-mediated CD8+ T-cell exclusion.

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