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Targeting PI3Kα increases the efficacy of anti-PD-1 antibody in cervical cancer.

Immunology 2023 July 20
Targeting programmed death 1(PD-1) has been approved for relapsed cervical cancer with unsatisfactory clinical efficacy. This study aims to analyse the impact of PI3K pathway activation on tumour immune microenvironment and evaluates the immune sensitization effect by PI3K inhibition in cervical cancer. The effect of PIK3CA mutation on PD-L1 expression and CD8+ T cells differentiation was determined in cervical cancer tissues. Luciferase and ChIP-qPCR/PCR assays were used to determine the transcriptional regulation of PD-L1 by PIK3CA-E545K. The effects of PI3K inhibitor treatment on immune environment in vitro and in vivo were evaluated by RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and flow cytometry. The efficacy of PI3K inhibitor and anti-PD-1 therapy was assessed in cell-derived xenografts (CDX) and patients-derived xenografts (PDX). PD-L1 overexpression is more frequently observed in elder women with squamous cervical carcinoma. It predicts longer progress-free survival and overall survival. PIK3CA mutation results in increased mRNA and protein levels of PD-L1, the repression of CD8+ T cell differentiation in cervical cancer. Here, we report a case that continuous pembrolizumab monotherapy treatment induced complete remission of a recurrent cervical cancer patient with systemic metastasis and PIK3CA-E545K mutation, implying that PIK3CA mutation is potentially a biomarker for pembrolizumab treatment in cervical cancer. Specifically, this mutation promotes the expression of PD-L1 by upregulating the transcription factor IRF1. PI3Kα-specific inhibitor markedly activates immune microenvironment by regulating the PD-1/L1-related pathways and promoting CD8+ T cell differentiation and proliferation in Caski-CDXs with PIK3CA-E545K mutation. PI3Kα inhibitor significantly enhances the anti-tumour efficacy of PD-1 blockade in CDXs and PDXs. PIK3CA mutations may predict the response of cervical cancer to PD-1 blockade. The efficacy of PI3Kα inhibitors combined with PD-1 antibodies is promising in cervical cancer and warrants additional clinical and mechanistic investigations.

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