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Cancer-associated fibroblasts promote immunosuppression by inducing ROS-generating monocytic MDSCs in lung squamous cell carcinoma

Xiang, H., Ramil, C.P., Hai, J. et al.

Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) represent a functionally heterogeneous population of activated fibroblasts that constitutes a major component of tumor stroma. Although CAFs have been shown to promote tumor growth and mediate resistance to chemotherapy, the mechanisms by which they may contribute to immune suppression within the tumor microenvironment (TME) in lung squamous cell carcinoma (LSCC) remain largely unexplored. Here, we identified a positive correlation between CAF and monocytic myeloid cell abundances in 501 primary LSCCs by mining The Cancer Genome Atlas data sets. We further validated this finding in an independent cohort using imaging mass cytometry and found a significant spatial interaction between CAFs and monocytic myeloid cells in the TME. To delineate the interplay between CAFs and monocytic myeloid cells, we used chemotaxis assays to show that LSCC patient-derived CAFs promoted recruitment of CCR2+ monocytes via CCL2, which could be reversed by CCR2 inhibition. Using a three-dimensional culture system, we found that CAFs polarized monocytes to adopt a myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MDSC) phenotype, characterized by robust suppression of autologous CD8+ T-cell proliferation and IFNγ production. We further demonstrated that inhibiting IDO1 and NADPH oxidases, NOX2 and NOX4, restored CD8+ T-cell proliferation by reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation in CAF-induced MDSCs. Taken together, our study highlights a pivotal role of CAFs in regulating monocyte recruitment and differentiation and demonstrated that CCR2 inhibition and ROS scavenging abrogate the CAF-MDSC axis, illuminating a potential therapeutic path to reversing the CAF-mediated immunosuppressive microenvironment.

Citation

Xiang, H., Ramil, C.P., Hai, J. et al. "Cancer-associated fibroblasts promote immunosuppression by inducing ROS-generating monocytic MDSCs in lung squamous cell carcinoma" Cancer Immunology Research (2020): 436-450