Front Oncol. 2020 Oct 28;10:595466. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2020.595466. eCollection 2020.
Radiation resistance is linked to immune escaping and radiation sensitivity. In this study, we found that the PD-L1 expressions of non-killed tumor cells in NSCLC were enhanced after radiotherapy, and dihydroartemisinin (DHA) could synergistically enhance the antitumor effect of radiotherapy in NSCLC. A total of 48 NSCLC patients with sufficient tumor tissues for further analyses were enrolled. The PD-L1 expressions of NSCLC were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Cell apoptosis was measured by
flow cytometry, and the relationship between the PD-L1 expression and radiation resistance was investigated in patient specimens, xenograft model, and cell lines. First, the results indicate that the PD-L1 expression of NSCLC was positively related with the radiation resistance. Second, we found that DHA could eliminate the radiation resistance and synergistically enhance the antitumor effect of radiotherapy in the NSCLC cells lines and xenograft model. Finally, mechanistically, DHA could inhibit the PD-L1 expression to avoid immune escaping by inhibiting TGF-β, PI3K/Akt, and STAT3 signaling pathways. In addition, DHA could activate TRIM21 and regulate the EMT-related proteins by inhibiting the PD-L1 so as to enhance the radiation sensitivity and eliminate radiation resistance to NSCLC. Collectively, this study established a basis for the rational design of integrated radiotherapy and DHA for the treatment of NSCLC.