Collagens in the extracellular matrix (ECM) provide a physical barrier to tumor immune infiltration, while also acting as a ligand for immune inhibitory receptors. Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) is a key contributor to shaping the ECM by stimulating the production and remodeling of collagens. TGF-β activation signatures and collagen-rich environments have both been associated with T cell exclusion and lack of responses to immunotherapy. Here, we describe the effect of targeting collagens that signal through the inhibitory leukocyte-associated immunoglobulin-like receptor-1 (LAIR-1) in combination with blockade of TGF-β and programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1). This approach remodeled the tumor collagenous matrix, enhanced tumor infiltration and activation of CD8+ T cells, and repolarized suppressive macrophage populations, resulting in high cure rates and long-term tumor-specific protection across murine models of colon and mammary carcinoma. The results highlight the advantage of direct targeting of ECM components in combination with immune checkpoint blockade therapy.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00001846.
Keywords: Cancer immunotherapy; Immunology.