Aim: Squamous epithelial cancers are immunogenic, as demonstrated by an increased risk of development in immunosuppressed patients. Some however evade host immunity, and establishing the mechanism of immune evasion could assist with squamous cancer immunotherapy.
Method: We have used a model of squamous epithelial pre malignancy, in which HPV16 E7 transgenic and hyperproliferative mouse skin is transplanted to naïve mice, and have explored local regulation of effector T cell function by E7 transgenic epithelial cells through manipulation of the graft donor immune system.
Results: E7 transgenic skin is not rejected by naïve recipient mice, or by mice immunised with E7 protein and expressing E7 specific cytotoxic T cells. E7 expressing hyper proliferative epithelium demonstrates caspase-1 activation, production of IL-1β, IL-18, and CCL2, and attraction and activation of NKT cells and mast cells. Rejection of E7 transgenic skin grafts can be observed following depletion from the donor skin of bone marrow derived cells, of NKT cells or of mast cells, whereas adjacent E7 transgenic grafts, otherwise unmanipulated, are not rejected. E7 graft rejection can also be induced by suppression in the donor skin or recipient animal of NKT cell secreted IL-17 or IFN-γ, or by depletion of the soluble IL-1 receptor IL-1R1 or blockade of Arginase activity in the recipient. Inhibition of graft rejection is not overcome by antibody to PD-1, PD-L1, or PD-L2. Hyperproliferative cervix epithelium in patients with CIN3 expresses the factors identified as inhibitory to E7 transgenic skin graft rejection, whereas skin from E7 transgenic mice with a mutated Rb gene preventing E7 induced epithelial proliferation lacks the inhibitory factors.
Conclusion: Epithelial hyper proliferation induces immunosuppressive mechanisms that locally prevent cytotoxic T cell function through mechanisms independent of checkpoint blockade. We hypothesise from our data that the local balance of production of IL-1β and Il-18 locally determines cytotoxic T cell effector function targeted at epithelial antigens.
Citation Format: Stephen Mattarollo, Graham Leggatt, James Wells, Paul Lambert, Ian H. Frazer. Modeling checkpoint blockade inhibitor resistant immunoregulation induced by squamous epithelial cancers. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR Inaugural International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference: Translating Science into Survival; September 16-19, 2015; New York, NY. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Immunol Res 2016;4(1 Suppl):Abstract nr A064.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.