Targeting cancer-associated fibroblast-secreted WNT2 restores dendritic cell-mediated antitumour immunity.

Solid tumours respond poorly to immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapies. One major therapeutic obstacle is the immunosuppressive tumour microenvironment (TME). Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are a key component of the TME and negatively regulate antitumour T-cell response. Here, we aimed to uncover the mechanism underlying CAFs-mediated tumour immune evasion and to develop novel therapeutic strategies targeting CAFs for enhancing ICI efficacy in oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and colorectal cancer (CRC).Anti-WNT2 monoclonal antibody (mAb) was used to treat immunocompetent C57BL/6 mice bearing subcutaneously grafted mEC25 or CMT93 alone or combined with anti-programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1), and the antitumour efficiency and immune response were assessed. CAFs-induced suppression of dendritic cell (DC)-differentiation and DC-mediated antitumour immunity were analysed by interfering with CAFs-derived WNT2, either by anti-WNT2 mAb or with short hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown. The molecular mechanism underlying CAFs-induced DC suppression was further explored by RNA-sequencing and western blot analyses.A negative correlation between WNT2+ CAFs and active CD8+ T cells was detected in primary OSCC tumours. Anti-WNT2 mAb significantly restored antitumour T-cell responses within tumours and enhanced the efficacy of anti-PD-1 by increasing active DC in both mouse OSCC and CRC syngeneic tumour models. Directly interfering with CAFs-derived WNT2 restored DC differentiation and DC-mediated antitumour T-cell responses. Mechanistic analyses further demonstrated that CAFs-secreted WNT2 suppresses the DC-mediated antitumour T-cell response via the SOCS3/p-JAK2/p-STAT3 signalling cascades.CAFs could suppress antitumour immunity through WNT2 secretion. Targeting WNT2 might enhance the ICI efficacy and represent a new anticancer immunotherapy.

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Authors: Tuxiong Huang, Xiang-Yu Tan, Hui-Si Huang, Yu-Ting Li, Bei-Lei Liu, Kai-Sheng Liu, Xinchun Chen, Zhe Chen, Xin-Yuan Guan, Chang Zou, Li Fu