Abstract

In recent years, immune therapy, notably immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI), in conjunction with chemotherapy and surgery has demonstrated therapeutic activity for some tumor types. However, little is known about the optimal combination of immune therapy with standard of care therapies and approaches. In patients with gastrointestinal (GI) cancers, especially pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), preoperative (neoadjuvant) chemotherapy has increased the number of patients who can undergo surgery and improved their responses. However, most chemotherapy is immunosuppressive, and few studies have examined the impact of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NCT) on patient immunity and/or the optimal combination of chemotherapy with immune therapy. Furthermore, the majority of chemo/immunotherapy studies focused on immune regulation in cancer patients have focused on postoperative (adjuvant) chemotherapy and are limited to peripheral blood (PB) and occasionally tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs); representing a minority of immune cells in the host. Our previous studies examined the phenotype and frequencies of myeloid and lymphoid cells in the PB and spleens of GI cancer patients, independent of chemotherapy regimen. These results led us to question the impact of NCT on host immunity. We report herein, unique studies examining the splenic and PB phenotypes, frequencies, and numbers of myeloid and lymphoid cell populations in NCT treated GI cancer patients, as compared to treatment naïve cancer patients and patients with benign GI tumors at surgery. Overall, we noted limited immunological differences in patients 6 weeks following NCT (at surgery), as compared to treatment naive patients, supporting rapid immune normalization. We observed that NCT patients had a lower myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) frequency in the spleen, but not the PB, as compared to treatment naive cancer patients and patients with benign GI tumors. Further, NCT patients had a higher splenic and PB frequency of CD4+ T-cells, and checkpoint protein expression, as compared to untreated, cancer patients and patients with benign GI tumors. Interestingly, in NCT treated cancer patients the frequency of mature (CD45RO+) CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells in the PB and spleens was higher than in treatment naive patients. These differences may also be associated, in part with patient stage, tumor grade, and/or NCT treatment regimen. In summary, the phenotypic profile of leukocytes at the time of surgery, approximately 6 weeks following NCT treatment in GI cancer patients, are similar to treatment naive GI cancer patients (i.e., patients who receive adjuvant therapy); suggesting that NCT may not limit the response to immune intervention and may improve tumor responses due to the lower splenic frequency of MDSCs and higher frequency of mature T-cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108628
JournalInternational Immunopharmacology
Volume106
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022

Keywords

  • Cancer patient spleen
  • Immune recovery
  • MDSC
  • Neoadjuvant chemotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology

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