Th17 cells inhibit CD8(+) T cell migration by systematically downregulating CXCR3 expression via IL-17A/STAT3 in advanced-stage colorectal cancer patients

Colorectal Cancer

Wang D, et al. J Hematol Oncol 2020.


BACKGROUND: CD8+ T cell trafficking to the tumor site is essential for effective colorectal cancer (CRC) immunotherapy. However, the mechanism underlying CD8+ T cell infiltration in colorectal tumor tissues is not fully understood. In the present study, we investigated CD8+ T cell infiltration in CRC tissues and the role of chemokine-chemokine receptor signaling in regulation of T cell recruitment.

METHODS: We screened chemokines and cytokines in healthy donor and CRC tissues from early- and advanced-stage patients using multiplex assays and PCR screening. We also utilized transcription factor activation profiling arrays and established a xenograft mouse model.

RESULTS: Compared with tumor tissues of early-stage CRC patients, CD8+ T cell density was lower in advanced-stage tumor tissues. PCR screening showed that CXCL10 levels were significantly increased in advanced-stage tumor tissues. CXCR3 (the receptor of CXCL10) expression on CD8+ T cells was lower in the peripheral blood of advanced-stage patients. The migratory ability of CD8+ T cells to CXCL10 depended on CXCR3 expression. Multiplex arrays showed that IL-17A was increased in advanced-stage patient sera, which markedly downregulated CXCR3 expression via activating STAT3 signaling and reduced CD8+ T cell migration. Similar results were found after CD8+ T cells were treated with Th17 cell supernatant. Adding anti-IL-17A or the STAT3 inhibitor, Stattic, rescued these effects in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, survival analysis showed that patients with low CD8 and CXCR3 expression and high IL-17A levels had significantly worse prognosis.

CONCLUSIONS: CD8+ T cell infiltration in advanced-stage tumor was systematically inhibited by Th17 cells via IL-17A/STAT3/CXCR3 axis. Our findings indicate that the T cell infiltration in the tumor microenvironment may be improved by inhibiting STAT3 signaling.