Background: The metastatic advancement of melanoma is largely dependent on its ability to evade immunity and gain access to the lymphatics. Characterization of tumor-draining, sentinel lymph nodes in patients has identified the nodes to express an immunosuppressed, Th2-dominant immune profile. Importantly, this profile is observed in sentinel lymph nodes even prior to evidence of metastasis supporting a model in which melanoma-derived factors prime tumor-draining, sentinel lymph nodes for tumor progression. Recent work in our lab has characterized the cellular interactions and the contribution of soluble factors in facilitating this immunosuppressive immune profile in fresh sentinel lymph nodes of patients; however, an appreciation for the role of subcellular counterparts remains to be explored. In this study, we considered a novel role for melanoma-derived, membrane-bound nanoparticles as drivers in polarizing immunity towards an immunosuppressive, tumor-promoting state.
Methods and Results: Utilizing recent technology advances in Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA), characterization of melanoma derived vesicles from human melanoma cell lines showed a size distribution of particles ranging from 30nm to 1um, representing both exosomes and microvesicles. Following hypoxic culture, vesicle production was amplified, suggesting the increasingly hypoxic tumor microenvironment may trigger vesicle secretion. To evaluate the immune regulating potential of melanoma-derived vesicles, proteomic analysis of vesicle cargo by mass spectrometry identified over 100 proteins including known immune regulators Galectin 3, MHC I, ICAM1 and MIF. Functional assessment revealed that dendritic cells matured in vitro in the presence of melanoma-derived vesicles have significantly reduced surface marker expression of co-stimulatory markers CD80 and CD86 compared to controls. In addition to an activation defect, microarray analysis of dendritic cells matured in the presence of melanoma vesicles displayed a unique RNA expression profile. Pathway analysis of the expression arrays identified numerous overlapping signaling pathways involving proteins present in the melanoma-derived vesicles by mass spectrometry suggesting tumor-derived vesicle cargo has the ability to modulate dendritic cell function.
Conclusion: Taken together, this study demonstrates a critical function for melanoma-derived vesicles in driving immunosuppression by characterizing their generation, protein cargo and immune regulating properties. The enrichment of melanoma-derived vesicles for immune mediators and ability of the vesicles to suppress dendritic cell function suggests a mechanism by which regional immunosuppression precedes nodal involvement and may foster an environment for metastasis to occur. Moving forward, we are currently translating these findings into fresh sentinel lymph nodes obtained from patients in order to elucidate the role of melanoma-derived vesicles in metastasis. Understanding this mechanism may yield valuable insight as we seek to develop efficacious immunotherapies targeting nodal metastasis.
Citation Format: Rachel Goldenstein, Wendy Nevala, Svetomir N. Markovic. Melanoma-derived nanovesicles as drivers of immunosuppression. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Special Conference: Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy: A New Chapter; December 1-4, 2014; Orlando, FL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Immunol Res 2015;3(10 Suppl):Abstract nr A70.
- ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.