C Feig, JO Jones, M Kraman, RJB Wells, A Deonarine, DS Chan, CM Connell, EW Roberts, Q Zhao, OL Caballero, SA Teichmann, T Janowitz, DI Jodrell, DA Tuveson, DT Fearon
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
An autochthonous model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) permitted the analysis of why immunotherapy is ineffective in this human disease. Despite finding that PDA-bearing mice had cancer cell-specific CD8(+) T cells, the mice, like human patients with PDA, did not respond to two immunological checkpoint antagonists that promote the function of T cells: anti-cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (α-CTLA-4) and α-programmed cell death 1 ligand 1 (α-PD-L1). Immune control of PDA growth was achieved, however, by depleting carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) that express fibroblast activation protein (FAP). The depletion of the FAP(+) stromal cell also uncovered the antitumor effects of α-CTLA-4 and α-PD-L1, indicating that its immune suppressive activity accounts for the failure of these T-cell checkpoint antagonists. Three findings suggested that chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 12 (CXCL12) explained the overriding immunosuppression by the FAP(+) cell: T cells were absent from regions of the tumor containing cancer cells, cancer cells were coated with the chemokine, CXCL12, and the FAP(+) CAF was the principal source of CXCL12 in the tumor. Administering AMD3100, a CXCL12 receptor chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor 4 inhibitor, induced rapid T-cell accumulation among cancer cells and acted synergistically with α-PD-L1 to greatly diminish cancer cells, which were identified by their loss of heterozygosity of Trp53 gene. The residual tumor was composed only of premalignant epithelial cells and inflammatory cells. Thus, a single protein, CXCL12, from a single stromal cell type, the FAP(+) CAF, may direct tumor immune evasion in a model of human PDA.