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Listeria monocytogenes (Lm)-LLO immunotherapies reduce the immunosuppressive activity of myeloid-derived suppressor cells and regulatory T cells in the tumor microenvironment

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Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) and regulatory T cells (Treg) are major components of the immune suppressive cells that potentially limit the effectiveness of an immunotherapy-based treatment. Both of these suppressive cell types have been shown to expand in tumor models and promote T-cell dysfunction that in turn favors tumor progression. In preclinical studies using transplantable mouse models, we observed that live attenuated bioengineered Listeria monocytogenes (Lm)-LLO immunotherapies have an impact on the suppressive ability of MDSC and Treg in the tumor microenvironment (TME), resulting in a loss in the ability of these cells to suppress T cells. This alteration of immunosuppression in the TME was an inherent property of all Lm-LLO immunotherapies tested and was independent of the tumor model. The virtually total loss in the suppressive ability of these cells in the TME was linked to a decrease in the expression of arginase I in MDSC and IL-10 in Treg. We are further investigating if the MDSC are differentiated into functional macrophages that increase antigen presentation within the TME in order to stimulate T cell immunity. Overall, this study provides insight into a potentially novel mechanism of action of Lm-LLO immunotherapies that may contribute to therapeutic anti-tumor responses.

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Correspondence to Anu Wallecha.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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  • Tumor Microenvironment
  • Tumor Model
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Listeria
  • Total Loss