The limited efficacy of immunotherapies against glioblastoma underscores the urgency of better understanding immunity in the central nervous system. We found that treatment with αCTLA-4, but not αPD-1, prolonged survival in a mouse model of mesenchymal-like glioblastoma. This effect was lost upon the depletion of CD4+ T cells but not CD8+ T cells. αCTLA-4 treatment increased frequencies of intratumoral IFNγ-producing CD4+ T cells, and IFNγ blockade negated the therapeutic impact of αCTLA-4. The anti-tumor activity of CD4+ T cells did not require tumor-intrinsic MHC-II expression but rather required conventional dendritic cells as well as MHC-II expression on microglia. CD4+ T cells interacted directly with microglia, promoting IFNγ-dependent microglia activation and phagocytosis via the AXL/MER tyrosine kinase receptors, which were necessary for tumor suppression. Thus, αCTLA-4 blockade in mesenchymal-like glioblastoma promotes a CD4+ T cell-microglia circuit wherein IFNγ triggers microglia activation and phagocytosis and microglia in turn act as antigen-presenting cells fueling the CD4+ T cell response.
Keywords: AXL; CD4(+) T cell; CTLA-4; MER; MHC-II; glioblastoma; immunotherapy; microglia.
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