A novel SMAC mimetic APG-1387 exhibits dual antitumor effect on HBV-positive hepatocellular carcinoma with high expression of cIAP2 by inducing apoptosis and enhancing innate anti-tumor immunity

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Abstract

Check point inhibitor anti-PD1 antibody produced some efficacy in Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) patients previously treated with sorafenib. Unfortunately, HCC patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection did not respond as well as uninfected patients. Previously, Second mitochondria-derived activator of caspases (SMAC) mimetics-the antagonist for inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs) can rapidly reduce serum hepatitis B virus DNA in animal model. APG-1387 is a novel SMAC-mimetic, small molecule inhibitor targeting inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs). In our study, firstly, we found that HCC patients with copy number alteration of cIAP1, cIAP2, and XIAP had a dismal prognosis. Then, we discovered that APG-1387 alone could induce apoptosis of PLC/PRF/5 which was HBV positive both in-vitro and in-vivo. Furthermore, we found that APG-1387 significantly up-regulated the expression of calreticulin and HLA-DR in PLC/PRF/5 via activating non-classic NF-κB pathway. Also, compared to vehicle group, APG-1387 increased NK cell counts by 5 folds in PLC/PRF/5 xenograft model. In-vitro, APG-1387 positively regulated T cells by reducing Treg differentiation and down-regulating PD1 expression in CD4 T cell. Moreover, APG-1387 had no impact on memory T cells. Consequently, our results suggest that APG1387 could be a good candidate to combine with anti-PD1 antibody treatment to overcome low responds of check point inhibitors in HBV positive HCC.

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