Poly(I:C) primes primary human glioblastoma cells for an immune response invigorated by PD-L1 blockade

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Jorrit De Waele et al.

Dewaele, J. et al.  (2018) Poly(I:C) primes primary human glioblastoma cells for an immune response invigorated by PD-L1 blockade. OncoImmunology, vol. 7 no 3.


Prognosis of glioblastoma remains dismal, underscoring the need for novel therapies. Immunotherapy is generating promising results, but requires combination strategies to unlock its full potential. We investigated the immunomodulatory capacities of poly(I:C) on primary human glioblastoma cells and its combinatorial potential with programmed death ligand (PD-L) blockade. In our experiments, poly(I:C) stimulated expression of both PD-L1 and PD-L2 on glioblastoma cells, and a pro-inflammatory secretome, including type I interferons (IFN) and chemokines CXCL9, CXCL10, CCL4 and CCL5. IFN-β was partially responsible for the elevated PD-1 ligand expression on these cells. Moreover, real-time PCR and chloroquine-mediated blocking experiments indicated that poly(I:C) triggered Toll-like receptor 3 to elicit its effect. Cocultures of poly(I:C)-treated glioblastoma cells with peripheral blood mononuclear cells enhanced lymphocytic activation (CD69, IFN-γ) and cytotoxic capacity (CD107a, granzyme B). Additional PD-L1 blockade further propagated immune activation. Besides activating immunity, poly(I:C)-treated glioblastoma cells also doubled the attraction of CD8+ T cells, and to a lesser extent CD4+ T cells, via a mechanism which included CXCR3 and CCR5 ligands. Our results indicate that by triggering glioblastoma cells, poly(I:C) primes the tumor microenvironment for an immune response. Secreted cytokines allow for immune activation while chemokines attract CD8+ T cells to the front, which are postulated as a prerequisite for effective PD-1/PD-L1 blockade. Accordingly, additional blockade of the concurrently elevated tumoral PD-L1 further reinforces the immune activation. In conclusion, our data proposes poly(I:C) treatment combined with PD-L1 blockade to invigorate the immune checkpoint inhibition response in glioblastoma.

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