First published August 13, 2019 - More info
Checkpoint blockade antibodies have been approved as immunotherapy for multiple types of cancer, but the response rate and efficacy are still limited. There are few immunogenic cell death (ICD)-inducing drugs available that can kill cancer cells, enhance tumor immunogenicity, increase the in vivo immune infiltration, and thereby boosting a tumor response to immunotherapy. So far, the ICD markers have been identified as the few immuno-stimulating characteristics of dead cells, but whether the presence of such ICD markers on tumor cells translates into enhanced antitumor immunity in vivo is still investigational. To identify anticancer drugs that could induce tumor cell death and boost T cell response, we performed drug screenings based on both an ICD reporter assay and T cell activation assay. We identified that teniposide, a DNA topoisomerase II inhibitor, could induce high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) release and type I interferon signaling in tumor cells, and teniposide-treated tumor cells could activate antitumor T cell response both in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, teniposide induced tumor cell DNA damage and innate immune signaling including NF-κB activation and STING-dependent type I interferon signaling, both of which contribute to the activation of dendritic cells and subsequent T cells. Furthermore, teniposide potentiated the antitumor efficacy of anti-PD1 on multiple types of mouse tumor models. Our findings showed that teniposide could trigger tumor immunogenicity, and enabled a potential chemo-immunotherapeutic approach to potentiate the therapeutic efficacy of anti-PD1 immunotherapy.