This study investigated the effects on the tumor microenvironment (TME) of combining antiangiogenic tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) with therapeutic vaccines, and in particular, how vascular changes affect tumor-infiltrating immune cells. We conducted studies using a TKI (sunitinib or sorafenib) in combination with recombinant vaccines in two murine tumor models: colon carcinoma (MC38-CEA) and breast cancer (4T1). Tumor vasculature was measured by immunohistochemistry using three endothelial cell markers: CD31 (mature), CD105 (immature/proliferating), and CD11b (monocytic). We assessed oxygenation, tight junctions, compactness, and pressure within tumors, along with the frequency and phenotype of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL), myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC), and tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) following treatment with antiangiogenic TKIs alone, vaccine alone, or the combination of a TKI with vaccine. The combined regimen decreased tumor vasculature, compactness, tight junctions, and pressure, leading to vascular normalization and increased tumor oxygenation. This combination therapy also increased TILs, including tumor antigen–specific CD8 T cells, and elevated the expression of activation markers FAS-L, CXCL-9, CD31, and CD105 in MDSCs and TAMs, leading to reduced tumor volumes and an increase in the number of tumor-free animals. The improved antitumor activity induced by combining antiangiogenic TKIs with vaccine may be the result of activated lymphoid and myeloid cells in the TME, resulting from vascular normalization, decreased tumor-cell density, and the consequent improvement in vascular perfusion and oxygenation. Therapies that alter tumor architecture can, thus, have a dramatic impact on the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapy. Cancer Immunol Res; 2(11); 1–13. ©2014 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Immunology Research Online (http://cancerimmunolres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received April 22, 2014.
- Revision received July 1, 2014.
- Accepted July 22, 2014.
- ©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.