Objective: MLN4924, a pharmacological inhibitor of cullin neddylation, resulted in glioma cell apoptosis, deregulation of the S-phase of DNA synthesis and thus, offers great potential for the treatment of brain tumours. However, targeting the neddylation pathway with an MLN4924 treatment stabilized the hypoxia-inducible factor 1A (HIF1A), which is one of the main transcriptional enhancers of the immune checkpoint molecule PDL1 (programmid death ligand-1) in cancer cells. The influence of immune checkpoint molecules on glioma progression has recently been discovered; PDL1 overexpression in gliomas corresponds to a significant shortening of patient survival and a decrease of the anti-tumour immune response. We hypothesize that i) PDL1 is up-regulated in gliomas after treatment with MLN4924 and induces T-cell energy; ii) co-utilization of the PD1/PDL1 blockage with MLN4924 therapy may reduce T-cell energy and may engage MLN4924-induced tumour disruption with the immune response.
Methods: PDL1 expression and its immunosuppressive role in gliomas, glioma microenvironments, and after treatments with MLN4924 were assessed by utilizing methods of immunohistochemistry, molecular biology, and biochemistry.
Results: We confirmed PDL1 overexpression in clinical brain tumour samples, PDGx and established glioma cell lines, extracellular media from glioma cells, and CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) samples from tumour-bearing mice. Our primary T-cell based assays verified that the up-regulation of PDL1 in tumour cells protects gliomas from T-cell treatment and reduces T-cell activation. We found that a pharmacological inhibitor of cullin neddylation, MLN4924, exhibited strong cytotoxicity towards PDGx and established glioma cell lines, in vitro, with an IC50's range from 0.2 to 3 uM. However, we observed a significant increase of HIF1A and PDL1 in mRNA and protein levels in all glioma cell lines after treatment with MLN4924. The MLN4924-dependent induction of PDL1 in gliomas resulted in T-cell energy, which was blocked by a blockage of the PD1/PDL1 interaction.
Conclusion: We conclude that i) PDL1 up-regulation in gliomas and the glioma microenvironment is an important chemotherapeutic target; ii) MLN4924 therapy, combined with a blockage of the PD1/PDL1 pathway, should be considered as a potential strategy for glioma treatment.
Keywords: Brain tumour; Cancer therapy; Gliomas; HIF; Immune checkpoint; MLN4924; PDL1.