In contrast to its inhibitory effects on many cells, IL-10 activates CD8+ tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and enhances their antitumor activity. However, CD8+ TILs do not routinely express IL-10 as autocrine complement C3 inhibits IL-10 production through complement receptors C3aR and C5aR. CD8+ TILs from C3-deficient mice, however, express IL-10 and exhibit enhanced effector function. C3-deficient mice are resistant to tumor development in a T cell- and IL-10-dependent manner; human TILs expanded with IL-2 plus IL-10 increase the killing of primary tumors in vitro compared to IL-2 treated TILs. Complement-mediated inhibition of antitumor immunity is independent of the PD-1/PD-L1 immune checkpoint pathway. Our findings suggest that complement receptors C3aR and C5aR expressed on CD8+ TILs represent a novel class of immune checkpoints that could be targeted for tumor immunotherapy. Moreover, incorporation of IL-10 in the expansion of TILs and in gene-engineered T cells for adoptive cell therapy enhances their antitumor efficacy.
- Received November 30, 2015.
- Revision received June 6, 2016.
- Accepted June 6, 2016.
- Copyright ©2016, American Association for Cancer Research.