Background: Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is an enzyme with immune-suppressive properties that is commonly exploited by tumors to evade immune destruction. Anti-tumor T cell responses can be initiated in solid tumors, but are immediately suppressed by compensatory upregulation of immunological checkpoints, including IDO. In addition to these known effects on the adaptive immune system, we previously showed widespread, T cell-dependent complement deposition during allogeneic fetal rejection upon maternal treatment with IDO-blockade. We hypothesized that IDO protects glioblastoma from the full effects of chemo-radiation therapy by preventing vascular activation and complement-dependent tumor destruction.
Methods: To test this hypothesis, we utilized a syngeneic orthotopic glioblastoma model in which GL261 glioblastoma tumor cells were stereotactically implanted into the right frontal lobes of syngeneic mice. These mice were treated with IDO-blocking drugs in combination with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Results: Pharmacologic inhibition of IDO synergized with chemo-radiation therapy to prolong survival in mice bearing intracranial glioblastoma tumors. We now show that pharmacologic or genetic inhibition of IDO allowed chemo-radiation to trigger widespread complement deposition at sites of tumor growth. Chemotherapy treatment alone resulted in collections of perivascular leukocytes within tumors, but no complement deposition. Adding IDO-blockade led to upregulation of VCAM-1 on vascular endothelium within the tumor microenvironment, and further adding radiation in the presence of IDO-blockade led to widespread deposition of complement. Mice genetically deficient in complement component C3 lost all of the synergistic effects of IDO-blockade on chemo-radiation-induced survival.
Conclusions: Together these findings identify a novel mechanistic link between IDO and complement, and implicate complement as a major downstream effector mechanism for the beneficial effect of IDO-blockade after chemo-radiation therapy. We speculate that this represents a fundamental pathway by which the tumor regulates intratumoral vascular activation and protects itself from immune-mediated tumor destruction.
Keywords: Chemotherapy; Complement; Glioblastoma; IDO; Immunotherapy; Indoleamine; Indoximod; NLG919; Radiation therapy; Tumor.