Tumor-induced dysfunction of immune cells is a common problem in cancer. Tumors induce immune suppression by many different mechanisms, including accumulation of regulatory T cells (Treg). Adaptive Treg (Tr1) generated in the tumor microenvironment express CD39 and CD73 ectonucleotidases, produce adenosine and are COX2+PGE2+. Adenosine and PGE2 produced by Tr1 or tumor cells bind to their respective receptors on the surface of T effector cells (Teff) and cooperate in up-regulating cytosolic 3'5'-cAMP levels utilizing adenylyl cyclase isoform 7 (AC-7). In Teff, increased cAMP mediates suppression of anti-tumor functions. Treg, in contrast to Teff, seem to require high cAMP levels for mediating suppression. This differential requirement of Treg and Teff for cAMP offers an opportunity for pharmacologic interventions using selected inhibitors of the adenosine/PGE2 pathways. Blocking of adenosine/PGE2 production by Tr1 or blocking binding of these factors to their receptors on T cells or inhibition of cAMP synthesis in Teff all represent novel therapeutic strategies that used in combination with conventional therapies could restore anti-tumor functions of Teff . At the same time, these inhibitors could disarm Tr1 cells by depriving them of the factors promoting their generation and activity or by down-regulating 3'5'-cAMP levels. Thus, the pharmacologic control of Treg-Teff interactions offers a novel strategy for restoration of anti-tumor Teff functions and silencing of Treg. Used in conjunction with anti-cancer drugs or with immune therapies, this strategy has a potential to improve therapeutic effects by preventing or reversing tumor-induced immune suppression.
Keywords: Adenosine, anti-tumor immunity, effector T cells (Teff), pharmacologic inhibitors, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), regulatory T cells (Treg), microenvironment express, CD73 ectonucleotidases, adenylyl cyclase isoform, immunotherapies