Purpose: Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) benefit only a minority of treated patients with cancer. Identification of biomarkers distinguishing responders and nonresponders will improve management of patients with cancer. Because the DC-HIL checkpoint differs from the PD1 pathway in expression and inhibitory mechanisms, we examined whether DC-HIL expression regulates ICI responsiveness.
Experimental design: Plasma samples were collected from patients with advanced non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) (n = 76) at baseline and/or follow-up after ICI monotherapy. Blood-soluble DC-HIL (sDC-HIL) was determined and analyzed for correlation with the early tumor response. To study the mechanisms, we measured effect of anti-DC-HIL versus anti-PDL1 mAb on growth of mouse tumor cells in experimentally metastatic lung. Influence of DC-HIL to anti-PDL1 treatment was assessed by changes in tumor response after deletion of host-DC-HIL gene, injection of DC-HIL-expressing myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC), or induction of sDC-HIL expression.
Results: Nonresponders expressed significantly higher levels of baseline sDC-HIL levels than responders. Among patients (n = 28) for fluctuation with time, nonresponders (14/15 cases) showed increasing or persistently elevated levels. Responders (12/13) had decreasing or persistently low levels. Among various tumors, B16 melanoma exhibited resistance to anti-PDL1 but responded to anti-DC-HIL mAb. Using B16 melanoma and LL2 lung cancer, we showed that deletion of host-derived DC-HIL expression converted the resistant tumor to one responsive to anti-PDL1 mAb. The responsive state was reversed by infusion of DC-HIL+MDSC or induction of sDC-HIL expression.
Conclusions: sDC-HIL in the blood and probably DC-HIL receptor expressed by MDSC play an important role in regulating response to ICI in advanced NSCLC.
©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.