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IL-37 induces anti-tumor immunity by indirectly promoting dendritic cell recruitment and activation in hepatocellular carcinoma

Authors Liu Y, Zhao JJ, Zhou ZQ, Pan QZ, Zhu Q, Tang Y, Xia JC, Weng DS

Received 7 January 2019

Accepted for publication 11 June 2019

Published 18 July 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 6691—6702


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Lu-Zhe Sun

Yuan Liu,1,2,* Jing-Jing Zhao,1,2,* Zi-Qi Zhou,1,2 Qiu-Zhong Pan,1,2 Qian Zhu,1,2 Yan Tang,1,2 Jian-Chuan Xia,1,2 De-Sheng Weng1,2

1State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Collaborative Innovation Center for Cancer Medicine, Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Center, Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Biotherapy, Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Center, Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Introduction: IL-37 is a cytokine of IL-1 family that plays an important role in innate immunity and inflammation, and has been studied as a tumor suppressor in many cancers. However, it remains unclear whether IL-37 plays a regulatory role in tumor-infiltrating dendritic cells (DCs) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Materials and methods: We evaluated the relationship between IL-37 expression and tumor infiltration by DCs in 155 HCC samples through immunohistochemical analysis and Kaplan–Meier survival analysis. The effects of IL-37 on the anti-tumor activity of DCs were investigated by ELISA, flow cytometry, real-time quantitative PCR, cytotoxicity assays and tumorigenicity assays.
Results: The expression level of IL-37 in HCC samples was positively correlated with the degree of CD1a+ DCs infiltration. The survival rates of patients with both a high expression of IL-37 and a high infiltration by CD1a+ DCs were significantly higher than those of patients with a low expression of IL-37 and a low infiltration by CD1a+ DCs. In vitro chemotaxis analysis indicated that HCC cells overexpressing IL-37 recruited more DCs by secreting higher levels of specific chemokines (eg, CCL3 and CCL20). In addition, IL-37 indirectly up-regulated the expression of major histocompatibility class II molecules, CD86 and CD40 on DCs by acting on tumor cells; IL-37 also indirectly enhanced the anti-tumor effect of T lymphocytes by stimulating DCs to secrete cytokines such as IL-2, IL-12, IL-12p70, interferon-α (IFN-α) and IFN-γ. Finally, overexpression IL-37 in HCC cells significantly delayed tumor growth and increased recruitment of CD11cDCs to tumor tissues was also revealed in vivo mouse model.
Conclusion: DCs play an important role in IL-37 mediated anti-tumor immune responses in HCC, which may contribute to the development of novel cancer immunotherapeutic strategies.

Keywords: IL-37, dendritic cells, antitumor immunity, hepatocellular carcinoma

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