Immunological mechanisms of the antitumor effects of supplemental oxygenation
Stephen M. Hatfield Sci Transl Med 4 March 2015: Vol. 7, Issue 277, p. 277ra30
Antitumor T cells either avoid or are inhibited in hypoxic and extracellular adenosine-rich tumor microenvironments (TMEs) by A2A adenosine receptors. This may limit further advances in cancer immunotherapy. There is a need for readily available and safe treatments that weaken the hypoxia–A2-adenosinergic immunosuppression in the TME. Recently, we reported that respiratory hyperoxia decreases intratumoral hypoxia and concentrations of extracellular adenosine. We show that it also reverses the hypoxia-adenosinergic immunosuppression in the TME. This, in turn, stimulates (i) enhanced intratumoral infiltration and reduced inhibition of endogenously developed or adoptively transfered tumor-reactive CD8 T cells, (ii) increased proinflammatory cytokines and decreased immunosuppressive molecules, such as transforming growth factor–β (TGF-β), (iii) weakened immunosuppression by regulatory T cells, and (iv) improved lung tumor regression and long-term survival in mice. Respiratory hyperoxia also promoted the regression of spontaneous metastasis from orthotopically grown breast tumors. These effects are entirely T cell– and natural killer cell–dependent, thereby justifying the testing of supplemental oxygen as an immunological coadjuvant to combine with existing immunotherapies for cancer.