Cutting Edge: Elevated Leptin during Diet-Induced Obesity Reduces the Efficacy of Tumor Immunotherapy

J Immunol. 2018 Oct 1;201(7):1837-1841. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1701738. Epub 2018 Aug 22.


Various malignancies are reproducibly cured in mouse models, but most cancer immunotherapies show objective responses in a fraction of treated patients. One reason for this disconnect may be the use of young, lean mice lacking immune-altering comorbidities present in cancer patients. Although many cancer patients are overweight or obese, the effect of obesity on antitumor immunity is understudied in preclinical tumor models. We examined the effect of obesity on two immunotherapeutic models: systemic anti-CTLA-4 mAb and intratumoral delivery of a TRAIL-encoding adenovirus plus CpG. Both therapies were effective in lean mice, but neither provided a survival benefit to diet-induced obese BALB/c mice. Interestingly, tumor-bearing leptin-deficient (ob/ob) obese BALB/c mice did respond to treatment. Moreover, reducing systemic leptin with soluble leptin receptor:Fc restored the antitumor response in diet-induced obese mice. These data demonstrate the potential of targeting leptin to improve tumor immunotherapy when immune-modulating comorbidities are present.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy
  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • CTLA-4 Antigen / immunology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Diet
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / therapy
  • Leptin / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides / metabolism
  • Receptors, Fc / genetics
  • Receptors, Fc / metabolism
  • Receptors, Leptin / genetics
  • Receptors, Leptin / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand / genetics
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand / metabolism


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • CTLA-4 Antigen
  • Leptin
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • Receptors, Fc
  • Receptors, Leptin
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand