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Potent CTLs can be induced against tumor cells in an environment of lower levels of systemic MFG-E8.

Cancer Science 2024 Februrary 9
The direction and magnitude of immune responses are critically affected when dead cells are disposed of. Milk fat globule-epidermal growth factor-factor 8 (MFG-E8) promotes the engulfment of apoptotic normal and cancerous cells without inducing inflammation. We have previously reported that a certain proportion of the cancer cells express abundant MFG-E8, and that such expression is associated with the shorter survival of patients with esophageal cancer who had received chemotherapy before surgery. However, the influence of tumor-derived and systemically existing MFG-E8 on antitumor immune responses has not yet been fully investigated. Herein, we showed that CTL-dependent antitumor immune responses were observed in mice with no or decreased levels of systemic MFG-E8, and that such responses were enhanced further with the administration of anti-PD-1 antibody. In mice with decreased levels of systemic MFG-E8, the dominance of regulatory T cells in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes was inverted to CD8+ T cell dominance. MFG-E8 expression by tumor cells appears to affect antitumor immune responses only when the level of systemic MFG-E8 is lower than the physiological status. We have also demonstrated in the clinical setting that lower levels of plasma MFG-E8, but not MFG-E8 expression in tumor cells, before the treatment was associated with objective responses to anti-PD-1 therapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. These results suggest that systemic MFG-E8 plays a critical role during the immunological initiation process of antigen-presenting cells to increase tumor-specific CTLs. Regulation of the systemic level of MFG-E8 might induce efficient antitumor immune responses and enhance the potency of anti-PD-1 therapy.

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