The depletion of tumor stromal cells that are marked by their expression of the membrane protein fibroblast activation protein-α (FAP) overcomes immune suppression and allows an anti-cancer cell immune response to control tumor growth. In subcutaneous tumors established with immunogenic Lewis lung carcinoma cells expressing ovalbumin (LL2/OVA), the FAP+ population is comprised of CD45+ and CD45- cells. In the present study, we further characterize the tumoral FAP+/CD45+ population as a minor sub-population of F4/80hi/CCR2+/CD206+ M2 macrophages. Using bone marrow chimeric mice in which the primate diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR) is restricted either to the FAP+/CD45+ or to the FAP+/CD45- subset, we demonstrate by conditionally depleting each subset that both independently contribute to the immune suppressive tumor microenvironment. A basis for the function of the FAP+/CD45+ subset is shown to be the immune inhibitory enzyme, heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). The FAP+/CD45+ cells are the major tumoral source of HO-1, and an inhibitor of HO-1, Sn mesoporphyrin, causes the same extent of immune-dependent arrest of LL2/OVA tumor growth as does the depletion of these cells. Since this observation of immune suppression by HO-1 expressed by the FAP+/CD45+ stromal cell was replicated in a transplanted model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, we conclude that pharmacologically targeting this enzyme may improve cancer immunotherapy.
- Received September 13, 2013.
- Revision received November 11, 2013.
- Accepted November 12, 2013.
- Copyright © 2013, American Association for Cancer Research.