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BTK Inhibition Reverses MDSC-Mediated Immunosuppression and Enhances Response to Anti-PDL1 Therapy in Neuroblastoma.

  • Author(s): Ishfaq, Mehreen
  • Pham, Timothy
  • Beaman, Cooper
  • Tamayo, Pablo
  • Yu, Alice L
  • Joshi, Shweta
  • et al.

MDSCs are immune cells of myeloid lineage that plays a key role in promoting tumor growth. The expansion of MDSCs in tumor-bearing hosts reduces the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors and CAR-T therapies, and hence strategies that deplete or block the recruitment of MDSCs have shown benefit in improving responses to immunotherapy in various cancers, including NB. Ibrutinib, an irreversible molecular inhibitor of BTK, has been widely studied in B cell malignancies, and recently, this drug is repurposed for the treatment of solid tumors. Herein we report that BTK is highly expressed in both granulocytic and monocytic murine MDSCs isolated from mice bearing NB tumors, and its increased expression correlates with a poor relapse-free survival probability of NB patients. Moreover, in vitro treatment of murine MDSCs with ibrutinib altered NO production, decreased mRNA expression of Ido, Arg, Tgfβ, and displayed defects in T-cell suppression. Consistent with these findings, in vivo inhibition of BTK with ibrutinib resulted in reduced MDSC-mediated immune suppression, increased CD8+ T cell infiltration, decreased tumor growth, and improved response to anti-PDL1 checkpoint inhibitor therapy in a murine model of NB. These results demonstrate that ibrutinib modulates immunosuppressive functions of MDSC and can be used either alone or in combination with immunotherapy for augmenting antitumor immune responses in NB.

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