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Chemotherapy coupled to macrophage inhibition leads to enhanced T and B cell infiltration and durable triple negative breast cancer regression

By Swarnima Singh, Nigel Lee, Diego Pedroza, Igor Bado, Clark Hamor, Licheng Zhang, Sergio Aguirre, Jingyuan Hu, Yichao Shen, Yitian Xu, Yang Gao, Na Zhan, Shu-Hsia Chen, Ying-Wooi Wan, Zhandong Liu, Jeffrey Chang, Daniel Hollern, Charles Perou, Xiang Zhang, Jeffrey M Rosen

Posted 22 Feb 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.22.432300

Immunosuppressive elements within the tumor microenvironment such as Tumor Associated Macrophages (TAMs) can present a barrier to successful anti-tumor responses by cytolytic T cells. We employed preclinical syngeneic p53 null mouse models of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) to develop a treatment regimen that harnessed the immunostimulatory effects of low-dose cyclophosphamide coupled with the pharmacologic inhibition of TAMs using either a small molecule CSF1R inhibitor or an anti-CSF1R antibody. This therapeutic combination was used to successfully treat several highly aggressive TNBC murine mammary tumors and lung metastasis. Using this regimen and single cell RNA sequencing we characterized tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) including helper T cells and antigen-presenting B cells that were highly enriched in good responders to combination therapy. Using high dimensional imaging techniques, we identified the close spatial localization of B220+ CD86+ activated B cells and CD4+ T cells in tertiary lymphoid structures that were present up to 6 weeks post-treatment in one model that also exhibited long-term tumor regression post-treatment. We also characterized the transcriptional and metabolic heterogeneity of TAMS in these two closely related claudin-low/mesenchymal subtype tumor models with differential treatment responses. A murine TAM signature derived from the T12 model is highly expressed and conserved in human claudin-low breast cancers, and high expression of the T12 signature correlated with reduced overall survival. This T12 tumor TAM signature may help identify human claudin-low breast cancer patients that will benefit from the combination of cyclophosphamide and anti-CSF1R therapy. These studies illustrate the complexity of the tumor immune microenvironment and highlight different immune responses that result from rationale combinations of immunotherapy.

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