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Microenvironment generated during EGFR targeted killing of pancreatic tumor cells by ATC inhibits myeloid-derived suppressor cells through COX2 and PGE2 dependent pathway

Archana Thakur12*, Dana Schalk1, Elyse Tomaszewski1, Sri Vidya Kondadasula1, Hiroshi Yano1, Fazlul H Sarkar2 and Lawrence G Lum13

Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Oncology and Medicine, Wayne State University and Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

2 Department of Pathology, Wayne State University and Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

3 Immunology and Microbiology, Wayne State University and Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

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Journal of Translational Medicine 2013, 11:35  doi:10.1186/1479-5876-11-35

Published: 9 February 2013



Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are one of the major components of the immune-suppressive network, play key roles in tumor progression and limit therapeutic responses. Recently, we reported that tumor spheres formed by breast cancer cell lines were visibly smaller in a Th1 enriched microenvironment with significantly reduced differentiation of MDSC populations in 3D culture. In this study, we investigated the mechanism(s) of bispecific antibody armed ATC mediated inhibition of MDSC in the presence or absence of Th1 microenvironment.


We used 3D co-culture model of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) with pancreatic cancer cells MiaPaCa-2 [MiaE] and gemcitabine resistant MiaPaCa-GR [MiaM] cells to generate MDSC in the presence or absence of Th1 cytokines and EGFRBi armed ATC (aATC).


We show significantly decreased differentiation of MDSC (MiaE, p<0.005; MiaM, p<0.05) in the presence of aATC with or without Th1 cytokines. MDSC recovered from control cultures (without aATC) showed potent ability to suppress T cell functions compared to those recovered from aATC containing co-cultures. Reduced accumulation of MDSC was accompanied by significantly lower levels of COX2 (p<0.0048), PGE2 (p<0.03), and their downstream effector molecule Arginase-1 (p<0.01), and significantly higher levels of TNF-α, IL-12 and chemokines CCL3, CCL4, CCL5, CXCL9 and CXCL10 under aATC induced Th1 cytokine enriched microenvironment.


These data suggest aATC can suppress MDSC differentiation and attenuation of their suppressive activity through down regulation of COX2, PGE2 and ARG1 pathway that is potentiated in presence of Th1 cytokines, suggesting that Th1 enriching immunotherapy may be beneficial in pancreatic cancer treatment.

3D culture model; Pancreatic cancer; Activated T-cells; Bispecific antibody; Epidermal growth factor receptor; Myeloid derived suppressor cells