Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) represents an immune quiescent tumor that is resistant to immune checkpoint inhibitors. Previously, our group has shown that a GM-CSF–secreting allogenic pancreatic tumor cell vaccine (GVAX) may prime the tumor microenvironment by inducing intratumoral T cell infiltration. Here, we show that untreated PDACs express minimal indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO1); however, GVAX therapy induced IDO1 expression on tumor epithelia as well as vaccine-induced tertiary lymphoid aggregates. IDO1 expression plays a role in regulating the polarization of Th1, Th17, and possibly T regulatory cells in PDAC tumors. IDO1 inhibitor enhanced antitumor efficacy of GVAX in a murine model of PDACs. The combination of vaccine and IDO1 inhibitor enhanced intratumoral T cell infiltration and function, but adding anti–PD-L1 antibody to the combination did not offer further synergy and in fact may have had a negative interaction, decreasing the number of intratumoral effector T cells. Additionally, IDO1 inhibitor in the presence of vaccine therapy did not significantly modulate intratumoral myeloid-derived suppressor cells quantitatively, but diminished their suppressive effect on CD8+ proliferation. Our study supports the combination of IDO1 inhibitor and vaccine therapy; however, it does not support the combination of IDO1 inhibitor and anti–PD-1/PD-L1 antibody for T cell–inflamed tumors such as PDACs treated with vaccine therapy.
Alex B. Blair, Jennifer Kleponis, Dwayne L. Thomas II, Stephen T. Muth, Adrian G. Murphy, Victoria Kim, Lei Zheng
High IDO1 expression upregulation is associated with a shift to an antitumor immune cell environment.