Rejection of tumor cells by a robust cellular immune response relies on production of type 1 cytokines (such as IFN-γ) and cytolytic activity of T cells. Programmed Death 1 (PD-1), a co-inhibitory receptor proposed to represent T cell dysfunction, is highly expressed on tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) , and may reflect T cell exhaustion marked by decreased proliferation, production of type 1 cytokines and poor cytolytic activity . T-bet, a T-box transcription factor which can be activated by phosphorylated signal transducers and activators of transcription 1 (p-STAT1), plays an important role in Tc1/Th1 skewing. Although anti-PD-1 antibodies enhance IFN-γ secretion after TCR stimulation , the mechanistic link between PD-1 and Tc1/Th1 skewing remains unclear. In prospectively collected cancer tissues, TIL manifested dampened Tc1/Th1 skewing and activation compared to PBL (Figure 1 and 2). In addition, PD-1 triggering using PD-L1 coated beads further suppressed TCR-stimulated upregulation of p-STAT1, T-bet and p-S6 as well as Th1 cytokines, while PD-1 blockade reversed suppressive effects of PD-1: PD-L1 ligation (Figure 3). We also found that Src homology-2 domain-containing phosphatase (SHP-2) is higher in TIL than in PBL, tightly correlates with PD-1 expression (Figure 4), and negatively regulates STAT1 and T-bet activation (Figure 5). Thus, the PD-1/SHP-2/p-STAT1/T-bet axis provides an important mechanism for PD-1 suppression of type 1 immunity at tumor sites. PD-1 blocking Abs, which are clinically effective in several solid cancers, should improve T cell-based cancer immunotherapy by restoring robust type 1 immunity and T cell activation to reverse immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment. SHP-2 inhibitory strategies may also be useful to improve type 1-biased TIL.
Lyford-Pike S, Peng S, Young GD et al: Evidence for a role of the PD-1:PD-L1 pathway in immune resistance of HPV-associated head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Cancer Res. 2013, 73: 1733-41. 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-2384.
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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.