TR Flint, T Janowitz, CM Connell, EW Roberts, AE Denton, AP Coll, DI Jodrell, DT Fearon
In patients with cancer, the wasting syndrome, cachexia, is associated with caloric deficiency. Here, we describe tumor-induced alterations of the host metabolic response to caloric deficiency that cause intratumoral immune suppression. In pre-cachectic mice with transplanted colorectal cancer or autochthonous pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), we find that IL-6 reduces the hepatic ketogenic potential through suppression of PPARalpha, the transcriptional master regulator of ketogenesis. When these mice are challenged with caloric deficiency, the resulting relative hypoketonemia triggers a marked rise in glucocorticoid levels. Multiple intratumoral immune pathways are suppressed by this hormonal stress response. Moreover, administering corticosterone to elevate plasma corticosterone to a level that is lower than that occurring in cachectic mice abolishes the response of mouse PDA to an immunotherapy that has advanced to clinical trials. Therefore, tumor-induced IL-6 impairs the ketogenic response to reduced caloric intake, resulting in a systemic metabolic stress response that blocks anti-cancer immunotherapy.