Concept: Lymph node
The currently-used modes of administration of immunotherapeutic agents result in their limited delivery to the lymph nodes and/or require repetitive ultrasound-guided nodal injections or microsurgical lymphatic injections, limiting their feasibility. Here, we report on the feasibility and safety of a new method of long-term repetitive intralymphatic (IL) infusion of immune cells, using implantable delivery ports.
One of the characteristics of the central nervous system is the lack of a classical lymphatic drainage system. Although it is now accepted that the central nervous system undergoes constant immune surveillance that takes place within the meningeal compartment, the mechanisms governing the entrance and exit of immune cells from the central nervous system remain poorly understood. In searching for T-cell gateways into and out of the meninges, we discovered functional lymphatic vessels lining the dural sinuses. These structures express all of the molecular hallmarks of lymphatic endothelial cells, are able to carry both fluid and immune cells from the cerebrospinal fluid, and are connected to the deep cervical lymph nodes. The unique location of these vessels may have impeded their discovery to date, thereby contributing to the long-held concept of the absence of lymphatic vasculature in the central nervous system. The discovery of the central nervous system lymphatic system may call for a reassessment of basic assumptions in neuroimmunology and sheds new light on the aetiology of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases associated with immune system dysfunction.
Chronic stress induces signalling from the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and drives cancer progression, although the pathways of tumour cell dissemination are unclear. Here we show that chronic stress restructures lymphatic networks within and around tumours to provide pathways for tumour cell escape. We show that VEGFC derived from tumour cells is required for stress to induce lymphatic remodelling and that this depends on COX2 inflammatory signalling from macrophages. Pharmacological inhibition of SNS signalling blocks the effect of chronic stress on lymphatic remodelling in vivo and reduces lymphatic metastasis in preclinical cancer models and in patients with breast cancer. These findings reveal unanticipated communication between stress-induced neural signalling and inflammation, which regulates tumour lymphatic architecture and lymphogenous tumour cell dissemination. These findings suggest that limiting the effects of SNS signalling to prevent tumour cell dissemination through lymphatic routes may provide a strategy to improve cancer outcomes.
Antioxidants in the diet and supplements are widely used to protect against cancer, but clinical trials with antioxidants do not support this concept. Some trials show that antioxidants actually increase cancer risk and a study in mice showed that antioxidants accelerate the progression of primary lung tumors. However, little is known about the impact of antioxidant supplementation on the progression of other types of cancer, including malignant melanoma. We show that administration of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) increases lymph node metastases in an endogenous mouse model of malignant melanoma but has no impact on the number and size of primary tumors. Similarly, NAC and the soluble vitamin E analog Trolox markedly increased the migration and invasive properties of human malignant melanoma cells but did not affect their proliferation. Both antioxidants increased the ratio between reduced and oxidized glutathione in melanoma cells and in lymph node metastases, and the increased migration depended on new glutathione synthesis. Furthermore, both NAC and Trolox increased the activation of the small guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase) RHOA, and blocking downstream RHOA signaling abolished antioxidant-induced migration. These results demonstrate that antioxidants and the glutathione system play a previously unappreciated role in malignant melanoma progression.
Subunit vaccines have been investigated in over 1000 clinical trials of cancer immunotherapy, but have shown limited efficacy. Nanovaccines may improve efficacy but have rarely been clinically translated. By conjugating molecular vaccines with Evans blue (EB) into albumin-binding vaccines (AlbiVax), here we develop clinically promising albumin/AlbiVax nanocomplexes that self-assemble in vivo from AlbiVax and endogenous albumin for efficient vaccine delivery and potent cancer immunotherapy. PET pharmacoimaging, super-resolution microscopies, and flow cytometry reveal almost 100-fold more efficient co-delivery of CpG and antigens (Ags) to lymph nodes (LNs) by albumin/AlbiVax than benchmark incomplete Freund’s adjuvant (IFA). Albumin/AlbiVax elicits ~10 times more frequent peripheral antigen-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes with immune memory than IFA-emulsifying vaccines. Albumin/AlbiVax specifically inhibits progression of established primary or metastatic EG7.OVA, B16F10, and MC38 tumors; combination with anti-PD-1 and/or Abraxane further potentiates immunotherapy and eradicates most MC38 tumors. Albumin/AlbiVax nanocomplexes are thus a robust platform for combination cancer immunotherapy.
Stromal-derived intratumoural heterogeneity (ITH) has been shown to undermine molecular stratification of patients into appropriate prognostic/predictive subgroups. Here, using several clinically relevant colorectal cancer (CRC) gene expression signatures, we assessed the susceptibility of these signatures to the confounding effects of ITH using gene expression microarray data obtained from multiple tumour regions of a cohort of 24 patients, including central tumour, the tumour invasive front and lymph node metastasis. Sample clustering alongside correlative assessment revealed variation in the ability of each signature to cluster samples according to patient-of-origin rather than region-of-origin within the multi-region dataset. Signatures focused on cancer-cell intrinsic gene expression were found to produce more clinically useful, patient-centred classifiers, as exemplified by the CRC intrinsic signature (CRIS), which robustly clustered samples by patient-of-origin rather than region-of-origin. These findings highlight the potential of cancer-cell intrinsic signatures to reliably stratify CRC patients by minimising the confounding effects of stromal-derived ITH.
Lymphocytes circulate through lymph nodes (LN) in search for antigen in what is believed to be a continuous process. Here, we show that lymphocyte migration through lymph nodes and lymph occurred in a non-continuous, circadian manner. Lymphocyte homing to lymph nodes peaked at night onset, with cells leaving the tissue during the day. This resulted in strong oscillations in lymphocyte cellularity in lymph nodes and efferent lymphatic fluid. Using lineage-specific genetic ablation of circadian clock function, we demonstrated this to be dependent on rhythmic expression of promigratory factors on lymphocytes. Dendritic cell numbers peaked in phase with lymphocytes, with diurnal oscillations being present in disease severity after immunization to induce experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). These rhythms were abolished by genetic disruption of T cell clocks, demonstrating a circadian regulation of lymphocyte migration through lymph nodes with time-of-day of immunization being critical for adaptive immune responses weeks later.
Programmed death-1 receptor (PD-L1, B7-H1) and programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) pathway blockade is a promising therapy for treating cancer. However, the mechanistic contribution of host and tumor PD-L1 and PD-1 signaling to the therapeutic efficacy of PD-L1 and PD-1 blockade remains elusive. Here, we evaluated 3 tumor-bearing mouse models that differ in their sensitivity to PD-L1 blockade and demonstrated a loss of therapeutic efficacy of PD-L1 blockade in immunodeficient mice and in PD-L1- and PD-1-deficient mice. In contrast, neither knockout nor overexpression of PD-L1 in tumor cells had an effect on PD-L1 blockade efficacy. Human and murine studies showed high levels of functional PD-L1 expression in dendritic cells and macrophages in the tumor microenvironments and draining lymph nodes. Additionally, expression of PD-L1 on dendritic cells and macrophages in ovarian cancer and melanoma patients correlated with the efficacy of treatment with either anti-PD-1 alone or in combination with anti-CTLA-4. Thus, PD-L1-expressing dendritic cells and macrophages may mechanistically shape and therapeutically predict clinical efficacy of PD-L1/PD-1 blockade.
The prevailing paradigm is that tuberculosis infection is initiated when patrolling alveolar macrophages and dendritic cells within the terminal alveolus ingest inhaled Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). However, definitive data for this model are lacking. Among the epithelial cells of the upper airway, a specialized epithelial cell known as a microfold cell (M cell) overlies various components of mucosa-associated lymphatic tissue. Here, using multiple mouse models, we show that Mtb invades via M cells to initiate infection. Intranasal Mtb infection in mice lacking M cells either genetically or by antibody depletion resulted in reduced invasion and dissemination to draining lymph nodes. M cell-depleted mice infected via aerosol also had delayed dissemination to lymph nodes and reduced mortality. Translocation of Mtb across two M cell transwell models was rapid and transcellular. Thus, M cell translocation is a vital entry mechanism that contributes to the pathogenesis of Mtb.
The tumor microenvironment is pivotal in influencing cancer progression and metastasis. Different cells co-exist with high spatial diversity within a patient, yet their combinatorial effects are poorly understood. We investigate the similarity of the tumor microenvironment of 192 local metastatic lesions in 61 ovarian cancer patients. An ecologically inspired measure of microenvironmental diversity derived from multiple metastasis sites is correlated with clinicopathological characteristics and prognostic outcome. We demonstrate a high accuracy of our automated analysis across multiple sites. A low level of similarity in microenvironmental composition is observed between ovary tumor and corresponding local metastases (stromal ratio r = 0.30, lymphocyte ratio r = 0.37). We identify a new measure of microenvironmental diversity derived from Shannon entropy that is highly predictive of poor overall (p = 0.002, HR = 3.18, 95% CI = 1.51-6.68) and progression-free survival (p = 0.0036, HR = 2.83, 95% CI = 1.41-5.7), independent of and stronger than clinical variables, subtype stratifications based on single cell types alone and number of sites. Although stromal influence in ovary tumors is known to have significant clinical implications, our findings reveal an even stronger impact orchestrated by diverse cell types. Quantitative histology-based measures can further enable objective selection of patients who are in urgent need of new therapeutic strategies such as combinatorial treatments targeting heterogeneous tumor microenvironment.