Interleukin-10 suppression enhances T-cell antitumor immunity and responses to checkpoint blockade in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

J. R. Rivas, Y. Liu, S. S. Alhakeem, J. M. Eckenrode, F. Marti, J. P. Collard, Y. Zhang, K. A. Shaaban, N. Muthusamy, G. C. Hildebrandt, R. A. Fleischman, L. Chen, J. S. Thorson, M. Leggas, S. Bondada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


T-cell dysfunction is a hallmark of B-cell Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), where CLL cells downregulate T-cell responses through regulatory molecules including programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) and Interleukin-10 (IL-10). Immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) aims to restore T-cell function by preventing the ligation of inhibitory receptors like PD-1. However, most CLL patients do not respond well to this therapy. Thus, we investigated whether IL-10 suppression could enhance antitumor T-cell activity and responses to ICB. Since CLL IL-10 expression depends on Sp1, we utilized a novel, better tolerated analogue of the Sp1 inhibitor mithramycin (MTMox32E) to suppress CLL IL-10. MTMox32E treatment inhibited mouse and human CLL IL-10 production and maintained T-cell effector function in vitro. In the Eμ-Tcl1 mouse model, treatment reduced plasma IL-10 and CLL burden and increased CD8+ T-cell proliferation, effector and memory cell prevalence, and interferon-γ production. When combined with ICB, suppression of IL-10 improved responses to anti-PD-L1 as shown by a 4.5-fold decrease in CLL cell burden compared to anti-PD-L1 alone. Combination therapy also produced more interferon-γ+, cytotoxic effector KLRG1+, and memory CD8+ T-cells, and fewer exhausted T-cells. Since current therapies for CLL do not target IL-10, this provides a novel strategy to improve immunotherapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3188-3200
Number of pages13
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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