New roles of the lymphatic endothelium in modulating adaptive immunity: implications for immune tolerance and cancer immunotherapy

Lymphatic vessels have traditionally been considered as passive conduits for interstitial fluid drainage and for immune cell trafficking to lymph nodes. In the last two decades, many studies have challenged this classical dogma: lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) were shown to actively interact with immune cells by secreting chemokines and cytokines, and presenting antigens to T cells. These newly described functions pinpoint a multi-faceted role of LECs in orchestrating the immune response through both passive and active mechanisms. Yet, precise mechanisms leading to antigen-specific fine-tuning of the T cell response remain unexplored. Moreover, although lymphatics have been shown to play important roles in cancer, the contributions of LECs in regulating antitumor immunity have been largely overlooked by the biomedical community. This doctoral thesis aimed at filling these gaps. First, in order to investigate the mechanisms and implications of LEC antigen presentation to CD4+ T cells, we engineered a mouse model where LECs lacked the ability to present antigens to CD4+ T cells. In these mice, antigen-specific responses to vaccination were increased when compared to wild-type controls. Moreover, we demonstrated that LECs were poor inducers of CD4+ T cell activation in vitro, and that they could dampen CD4+ T cell activation by dendritic cells. Taken together, these findings suggest that LECs participate to the peripheral immune tolerance of CD4+ T cells. Second, we investigated the immunological consequences of the development of lymphatic vessels, called lymphangiogenesis, in mouse melanoma. Upon induction of tumor lymphangiogenesis, we observed striking tumor enrichment with immune cells, which resulted in a higher sensitivity of those tumors to immunotherapy. We subsequently demonstrated that inducing lymphangiogenesis in a mouse model of cold tumors, which lack immune infiltrates and do not respond to immunotherapies, could restore their responsiveness to immunotherapy treatments. Third, to predict which cancer types were the most likely to replicate the findings we obtained in mouse melanoma, we mined The Cancer Genome Atlas database for gene expression. We identified a set of cancers, such as colon adenocarcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma, where high expression of the lymphangiogenic growth factor was associated with a strong T cell signature. This doctoral thesis unveiled new immunomodulatory functions of LECs by which antigen-specific immune tolerance is induced. Additionally, it opened new avenues to target lymphatics therapeutically in cancer to potentiate immunotherapies. We believe this work contributes to demonstrating the immunological importance of LECs, and hope that lymphatics will be considered as an important immunomodulatory player of the tumor microenvironment when developing novel immunotherapies.


Directeur(s):
Swartz, Melody
Hanahan, Douglas
Année
2018
Publisher:
Lausanne, EPFL
Mots-clefs:
Laboratoires:
LLCB


Note: Le statut de ce fichier est: Seulement EPFL


 Notice créée le 2018-08-06, modifiée le 2019-05-09

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