AdvisorWebb, Tonya J.
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AbstractNatural Killer T (NKT) cells play an important role in cancer surveillance and can reduce lymphoma burden in vivo; however, a hallmark of cancer is its ability to evade immune surveillance. Our goals were to elucidate novel mechanisms utilized by B cell lymphoma to evade NKT cell-mediated immune surveillance and determine the prognostic potential of assessing NKT cell function in lymphoma patients. We found that knockdown of sphingosine kinase 1 (SK1) in human lymphoma cells results in a significant increase in CD1d-mediated NKT cell activation. Lipidomic and co-culture studies identified cardiolipin as being upregulated in SK1 knockdown cells and implicated cardiolipin as an NKT cell-specific cancer neoantigen. We also sought to determine the efficacy of NKT cell-based therapy on survival and the induction of anti-tumor immune responses in a mouse model of B cell lymphoma. We found that activation of NKT cells via early administration of α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) only provided modest protection. Our data suggest that the lack of protection is due, at least in part, to the expansion of myeloid-derived suppressor cells in α-GalCer-treated tumor bearing mice. Lastly, we sought to identify novel immunological biomarkers in lymphoma patients. It was found that lymphoma patients have a reduction in NKT cell function compared to healthy donors. Furthermore, lymphoma patients have significantly higher levels of both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in their sera compared to healthy donors. In addition, lymphoma patients who experience relapse have significantly reduced NKT cell function in the blood, compared to lymphoma patients who did not relapse. Collectively, our studies demonstrate the multifaceted role NKT cells play in immune responses to B cell lymphoma and will help inform the next generation of cancer immunotherapy.
Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
University of Maryland, Baltimore
Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells
Natural Killer T-Cells