Chemotherapy rescues tumor-driven aberrant CD4+ T-cell differentiation and restores an activated polyfunctional helper phenotype

Zhi Chun Ding, Bruce R. Blazar, Andrew L. Mellor, David H. Munn, Gang Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The functional development of tumor-specific CD4+ T cells has a critical impact on the outcome of antitumor immune responses. Adoptive immunotherapy involving tumor-specific CD4+ T cells has shown encouraging clinical benefits in some cancer patients. To mount an effective antitumor immunity, it is desirable to elicit activated type 1 T helper cells. Here, we report that type 1 T helper cell-like effector cells that arose in tumor-bearing hosts progressively expressed programmed death 1 during tumor growth. The programmed death 1hi effector cells displayed a dysfunctional phenotype, characterized by selective down-regulation of interleukin-7 receptor, heightened apoptosis, and poor antitumor efficacy. This tumor-driven aberrant T-cell response could be prevented by a single dose of the widely used chemotherapy agent cyclophosphamide. We show that chemotherapy conditioned the host environment, creating a transient window for optimal effector differentiation for adoptively transferred CD4+ T cells. This robust effector differentiation, which was antigen-driven and mechanistically dependent on an intact host response to type I interferon, gave rise to activated polyfunctional T helper cells with high interleukin-7 receptor, rapid clonal expansion, and potent antitumor activity against established B-cell lymphomas. We hypothesize that prevention of tumor-induced effector cell dysfunction is a major mechanism contributing to the efficacy of combined chemoimmunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2397-2406
Number of pages10
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 25 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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