T-cell defects, immune suppression, and poor antitumor immune responses are hallmarks of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitory signaling has emerged as a major immunosuppressive mechanism. However, the effect of different microenvironments and the confounding influence of aging are poorly understood. The current study uses the Emu-TCL1 mouse model, which replicates human T-cell defects, as a preclinical platform to longitudinally examine patterns of T-cell dysfunction alongside developing CLL and in different microenvironments, with a focus on PD-1/PD-L1 interactions. The development of CLL was significantly associated with changes in T-cell phenotype across all organs and function. Although partly mirrored in aging wild-type mice, CLL-specific T-cell changes were identified. Murine CLL cells highly expressed PD-L1 and PD-L2 in all organs, with high PD-L1 expression in the spleen. CD3(+)CD8(+) T cells from leukemic and aging healthy mice highly expressed PD-1, identifying aging as a confounder, but adoptive transfer experiments demonstrated CLL-specific PD-1 induction. Direct comparisons of PD-1 expression and function between aging CLL mice and controls identified PD-1(+) T cells in CLL as a heterogeneous population with variable effector function. This is highly relevant for therapeutic targeting of CD8(+) T cells, showing the potential of reprogramming and selective subset expansion to restore antitumor immunity.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published