In preclinical tumor models, αOX40 therapy is often successful at treating small tumors, but is less effective once the tumors become large. For a tumor immunotherapy to be successful to cure large tumors, it will most likely require not only an agonist to boost effector T-cell function but also inhibitors of T-cell suppression. In this study, we show that combining αOX40 antibodies with an inhibitor of the TGFβ receptor (SM16) synergizes to elicit complete regression of large established MCA205 and CT26 tumors. Evaluation of tumor-infiltrating T cells showed that SM16/αOX40 dual therapy resulted in an increase in proliferating granzyme B+ CD8 T cells, which produced higher levels of IFNγ, compared with treatment with either agent alone. We also found that the dual treatment increased pSTAT3 expression in both CD4 and CD8 T cells isolated from tumors. Because others have published that STAT3 signaling is detrimental to T-cell function within the tumor microenvironment, we explored whether deletion of STAT3 in OX40-expressing cells would affect this potent combination therapy. Surprisingly, we found that deletion of STAT3 in OX40-expressing cells decreased the efficacy of this combination therapy, showing that the full therapeutic potential of this treatment depends on STAT3 signaling, most likely in the T cells of tumor-bearing mice. Cancer Immunol Res; 3(5); 1–10. ©2015 AACR.
- Received October 1, 2014.
- Revision received January 12, 2015.
- Accepted January 13, 2015.
- ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.