New immunotherapeutic strategies are needed to induce effective antitumor immunity in all cancer patients. Malignant mesothelioma is characterized by a poor prognosis and resistance to conventional therapies. Infiltration of tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) is prominent in mesothelioma and is linked to immune suppression, angiogenesis, and tumor aggressiveness. Therefore, TAM depletion could potentially reactivate antitumor immunity. We show that M-CSFR inhibition using the CSF-1R kinase inhibitor PLX3397 (pexidartinib) effectively reduced numbers of TAMs, circulating nonclassical monocytes, as well as amount of neoangiogenesis and ascites in mesothelioma mouse models, but did not improve survival. When combined with dendritic cell vaccination, survival was synergistically enhanced with a concomitant decrease in TAMs and an increase in CD8+ T-cell numbers and functionality. Total as well as tumor antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in tumor tissue of mice treated with combination therapy showed reduced surface expression of the programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1), a phenomenon associated with T-cell exhaustion. Finally, mice treated with combination therapy were protected from tumor rechallenge and displayed superior T-cell memory responses. We report that decreasing local TAM-mediated immune suppression without immune activation does not improve survival. However, combination of TAM-mediated immune suppression with dendritic cell immunotherapy generates robust and durable antitumor immunity. These findings provide insights into the interaction between immunotherapy-induced antitumor T cells and TAMs and offer a therapeutic strategy for mesothelioma treatment. Cancer Immunol Res; 5(7); 535-46. ©2017 AACR.
©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.