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Eur J Immunol. 2011 Dec;41(12):3615-26.

Intratumor OX40 stimulation inhibits IRF1 expression and IL-10 production by Treg cells while enhancing CD40L expression by effector memory T cells.

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Molecular Immunology Unit, Department of Experimental Oncology and Molecular Medicine, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy.


Treg cells maintain the tumor microenvironment in an immunosuppressive state preventing an effective anti-tumor immune response. A possible strategy to overcome Treg-cell suppression focuses on OX40, a costimulatory molecule expressed constitutively by Treg cells while being induced in activated effector T cells. OX40 stimulation, by the agonist mAb OX86, inhibits Treg-cell suppression and boosts effector T-cell activation. Here we uncover the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic activity of OX86 treatment dissecting its distinct effects on Treg and on effector memory T (Tem) cells, the most abundant CD4+ populations strongly expressing OX40 at the tumor site. In response to OX86, tumor-infiltrating Treg cells produced significantly less interleukin 10 (IL-10), possibly in relation to a decrease in the transcription factor interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1). Tem cells responded to OX86 by upregulating surface CD40L expression, providing a licensing signal to DCs. The CD40L/CD40 axis was required for Tem-cell-mediated in vitro DC maturation and in vivo DC migration. Accordingly, OX86 treatment was no longer therapeutic in CD40 KO mice. In conclusion, following OX40 stimulation, blockade of Treg-cell suppression and enhancement of the Tem-cell adjuvant effect both concurred to free DCs from immunosuppression and activate the immune response against the tumor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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