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Cancer Sci. 2015 Feb;106(2):134-42. doi: 10.1111/cas.12584. Epub 2015 Jan 16.

Cancer-associated fibroblast-targeted strategy enhances antitumor immune responses in dendritic cell-based vaccine.

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Department of Surgery, Shiga University of Medical Science, Shiga, Japan.


Given the close interaction between tumor cells and stromal cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME), TME-targeted strategies would be promising for developing integrated cancer immunotherapy. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are the dominant stromal component, playing critical roles in generation of the pro-tumorigenic TME. We focused on the immunosuppressive trait of CAFs, and systematically explored the alteration of tumor-associated immune responses by CAF-targeted therapy. C57BL/6 mice s.c. bearing syngeneic E.G7 lymphoma, LLC1 Lewis lung cancer, or B16F1 melanoma were treated with an anti-fibrotic agent, tranilast, to inhibit CAF function. The infiltration of immune suppressor cell types, including regulatory T cells and myeloid-derived suppressor cells, in the TME was effectively decreased through reduction of stromal cell-derived factor-1, prostaglandin E2 , and transforming growth factor-β. In tumor-draining lymph nodes, these immune suppressor cell types were significantly decreased, leading to activation of tumor-associated antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells. In addition, CAF-targeted therapy synergistically enhanced multiple types of systemic antitumor immune responses such as the cytotoxic CD8(+) T cell response, natural killer activity, and antitumor humoral immunity in combination with dendritic cell-based vaccines; however, the suppressive effect on tumor growth was not observed in tumor-bearing SCID mice. These data indicate that systemic antitumor immune responses by various immunologic cell types are required to bring out the efficacy of CAF-targeted therapy, and these effects are enhanced when combined with effector-stimulatory immunotherapy such as dendritic cell-based vaccines. Our mouse model provides a novel rationale with TME-targeted strategy for the development of cell-based cancer immunotherapy.


Cancer-associated fibroblasts; dendritic cell-based vaccine immunotherapy; suppressor immune cells; tranilast; tumor microenvironment

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