The success of immune checkpoint therapy shows tumor-reactive T cells can eliminate cancer cells but are restrained by immunosuppression within the tumor micro-environment (TME). Cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are the dominant stromal cell in the TME and co-localize with T cells in non-small cell lung cancer. We demonstrate the bidirectional nature of CAF/T cell interactions; T cells promote expression of co-inhibitory ligands, MHC molecules and CD73 on CAFs, increasing their production of IL-6 and eliciting production of IL-27. In turn CAFs upregulate co-inhibitory receptors on T cells including the ectonucleotidase CD39 promoting development of an exhausted but highly cytotoxic phenotype. Our results highlight the bidirectional interaction between T cells and CAFs in promoting components of the immunosuppressive CD39, CD73 adenosine pathway and demonstrate IL-27 production can be induced in CAF by activated T cells.
Keywords: Non-small cell lung cancer; T cells; cancer-associated fibroblasts; crosstalk.
© 2021 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.