Murine studies have shown that immunologic targeting of the tumor vasculature, a key element of the tumor stroma, can lead to protective immunity in the absence of significant pathology. In the current study, we expand the scope of stroma-targeted immunotherapy to antigens expressed in tumor-associated fibroblasts, the predominant component of the stroma in most types of cancer. Mice were immunized against fibroblast activation protein (FAP), a product up-regulated in tumor-associated fibroblasts, using dendritic cells transfected with FAP mRNA. Using melanoma, carcinoma, and lymphoma models, we show that tumor growth was inhibited in tumor-bearing mice vaccinated against FAP and that the magnitude of the antitumor response was comparable to that of vaccination against tumor cell-expressed antigens. Both s.c. implanted tumors and lung metastases were susceptible to anti-FAP immunotherapy. The antitumor response could be further enhanced by augmenting the CD4+ T-cell arm of the anti-FAP immune response, achieved by using a lysosomal targeting sequence to redirect the translated FAP product into the class II presentation pathway, or by covaccination against FAP and a tumor cell-expressed antigen, tyrosinase-related protein 2. No morbidity or mortality was associated with anti-FAP vaccination except for a small delay in wound healing. The study suggests that FAP, a product which is preferentially expressed in tumor-associated fibroblasts, could function as a tumor rejection antigen in a broad range of cancers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research