Background: Ovarian cancer (OC), a highly lethal cancer in women, has a 48% 5-year overall survival rate. Prior studies link the presence of IL-17 and Th17 T cells in the tumor microenvironment to improved survival in OC patients. To determine if Th17-inducing vaccines are therapeutically effective in OC, we created a murine model of Th17-inducing dendritic cell (DC) (Th17-DC) vaccination generated by stimulating IL-15 while blocking p38 MAPK in bone marrow-derived DCs, followed by antigen pulsing.
Methods: ID8 tumor cells were injected intraperitoneally into mice. Mice were treated with Th17-DC or conventional DC (cDC) vaccine alone or with immune checkpoint blockade (ICB). Systemic immunity, tumor associated immunity, tumor size and survival were examined using a variety of experimental strategies.
Results: Th17-DC vaccines increased Th17 T cells in the tumor microenvironment, reshaped the myeloid microenvironment, and improved mouse survival compared with cDC vaccines. ICB had limited efficacy in OC, but Th17-inducing DC vaccination sensitized it to anti-PD-1 ICB, resulting in durable progression-free survival by overcoming IL-10-mediated resistance. Th17-DC vaccine efficacy, alone or with ICB, was mediated by CD4 T cells, but not CD8 T cells.
Conclusions: These findings emphasize using biologically relevant immune modifiers, like Th17-DC vaccines, in OC treatment to reshape the tumor microenvironment and enhance clinical responses to ICB therapy.
Keywords: Antigens; CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes; Immunomodulation; Immunotherapy, Active; Tumor Escape.
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