Rationale: B cells have emerged as key regulators in protective cancer immunity. However, the activation pathways induced in B cells during effective immunotherapy are not well understood. Methods: We used a novel localized ablative immunotherapy (LAIT), combining photothermal therapy (PTT) with intra-tumor delivery of the immunostimulant N-dihydrogalactochitosan (GC), to treat mice bearing mouse mammary tumor virus-polyoma middle tumor-antigen (MMTV-PyMT). We used single-cell RNA sequencing to compare the transcriptional changes induced by PTT, GC and PTT+GC in B cells within the tumor microenvironment (TME). Results: LAIT significantly increased survival in the tumor-bearing mice, compared to the treatment by PTT and GC alone. We found that PTT, GC and PTT+GC increased the proportion of tumor-infiltrating B cells and induced gene expression signatures associated with B cell activation. Both GC and PTT+GC elevated gene expression associated with antigen presentation, whereas GC elevated transcripts that regulate B cell activation and GTPase function and PTT+GC induced interferon response genes. Trajectory analysis, where B cells were organized according to pseudotime progression, revealed that both GC and PTT+GC induced the differentiation of B cells from a resting state towards an effector phenotype. The analyses confirmed upregulated interferon signatures in the differentiated tumor-infiltrating B cells following treatment by PTT+GC but not by GC. We also observed that breast cancer patients had significantly longer survival time if they had elevated expression of genes in B cells that were induced by PTT+GC therapy in the mouse tumors. Conclusion: Our findings show that the combination of local ablation and local application of immunostimulant initiates the activation of interferon signatures and antigen-presentation in B cells which is associated with positive clinical outcomes for breast cancer. These findings broaden our understanding of LAIT's regulatory roles in remodeling TME and shed light on the potentials of B cell activation in clinical applications.
Keywords: B cell activation; N-dihydrogalactochitosan; Single-cell RNA sequencing; breast cancer; localized ablative immunotherapy.
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