Combination treatment with immunogenic and anti-PD-L1 polymer-drug conjugates of advanced tumors in a transgenic MMTV-PyMT mouse model of breast cancer

J Control Release. 2021 Feb 16:S0168-3659(21)00074-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2021.02.011. Online ahead of print.


Immune checkpoint blockade has revolutionized the treatment of tumors with immunogenic microenvironments. However, low response rate and acquired resistance are still major challenges. Herein we used a more clinically relevant model of transgenic MMTV-PyMT tumor that more closely mimics the development of human breast cancer in an immunocompetent background to investigate a polymer-based chemo-immunotherapy. We have found that tumors acquired an increased degree of immune suppression during progression, rendering them unresponsive to anti-PD-L1 therapy. To treat large tumors at their advanced stage, we applied a combination strategy consisting of two polymer-drug conjugates that could induce immunogenic cell death (ICD) and disrupt the PD-L1/PD-1 interaction, respectively. Although ICD-inducing conjugate remodeled tumor immune microenvironment by facilitating significant CD8+ T cell infiltration, advanced tumor adapted the immune suppressive mechanism of elevating PD-L1 expression on both cancer cells and myeloid cells thereafter to enable continued tumor growth. Concurrent treatment of PD-L1 blocking conjugate not only abrogated the PD-L1 expression from the two disparate cellular sources, but also considerably reduced the number of immunosuppressive myeloid cells, thereby leading to a significant shrinkage of advanced tumors. Our data provide evidence that combinatory strategy of ICD-inducing and PD-L-blocking modalities could reverse immune suppression and establish a basis for the rational design of cancer immunotherapy.

PMID:33607175 | DOI:10.1016/j.jconrel.2021.02.011