Dual mitigation of immunosuppression combined with photothermal inhibition for highly effective primary tumor and metastases therapy

Ju Huang, Liang Zhang, Weichen Zhou, Jingxue Wang, Ruo Zhang, Zhigang Wang, Haitao Ran, Pan Li, Rui Li
T-cell based immune response can attack cancer cells formidably when certain immune checkpoint (e.g., PD-1/PD-L1) is blocked. Unfortunately, PD-1/PD-L1 blockade only provoke limited immune response because the differentiation of tumor-reactive T lymphocytes is often suppressed by TGF-β pathway. Namely, the combating cancer weapon is weakened. In this study, other than employing photothermal therapy (PTT) to eliminate the primary tumor, we also aimed to expose in situ tumor-associated antigens and exert immune response for metastases inhibition. This enhanced immunotherapeutic strategy is achieved by IR780/SB-505124 based nanoliposomes (Nano-IR-SB@Lip). Upon administration, TGF-β pathway is inhibited by SB to drive effector T cells into a responsive state and reduce the infiltration of Treg cells, eventually greatly enhancing the weapon against cancer. In the meantime, the immunosuppressive “protection” of tumor cells is also neutralized by blocking PD-1/PD-L1 immune checkpoint. By virtue of inherent characteristics of IR780, Nano-IR-SB@Lip can selectively accumulate, penetrate deeply in tumor tissues, and preferentially retain in mitochondria. The above features are of critical importance to tumor therapy. Thus, highly effective cancer immunotherapy is implemented via selective accumulation/deep penetration of Nano-IR-SB@Lip in tumor, achieving PTT induced immunogenic cell death and dual mitigation of immunosuppression strategy (TGF-β inhibition/PD-1/PD-L1 blockade), which is a promising therapeutic modality for cancer.

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