TGF beta blockade enhances radiotherapy abscopal efficacy effects in combination with anti-PD1 and anti-CD137 immunostimulatory monoclonal antibodies
Radiotherapy can be synergistically combined with immunotherapy in mouse models, extending its efficacious effects outside of the irradiated field (abscopal effects). We previously reported that a regimen encompassing local radiotherapy in combination with anti-CD137 plus anti-PD-1 mAbs achieves potent abscopal effects against syngeneic transplanted murine tumors up to a certain tumor size. Knowing that TGF beta expression or activation increases in irradiated tissues, we tested whether TGF beta blockade may further enhance abscopal effects in conjunction with the anti-PD-1 plus anti-CD137 mAb combination. Indeed, TGF beta blockade with 1D11, a TGF beta-neutralizing mAb, markedly enhanced abscopal effects and overall treatment efficacy against subcutaneous tumors of either 4T1 breast cancer cells or large MC38 colorectal tumors. Increases in CD8 T cells infiltrating the nonirradiated lesion were documented upon combined treatment, which intensely expressed Granzyme-B as an indicator of cytotoxic effector capability. Interestingly, tumor tissue but not healthy tissue irradiation results in the presence of higher concentrations of TGF beta in the nonirradiated contralateral tumor that showed smad2/3 phosphorylation increases in infiltrating CD8 T cells. In conclusion, radiotherapy-induced TGF beta hampers abscopal efficacy even upon combination with a potent immunotherapy regimen. Therefore, TGF beta blockade in combination with radioimmunotherapy results in greater efficacy.