Dinaciclib induces immunogenic cell death and enhances anti-PD1–mediated tumor suppression

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Blockade of the checkpoint inhibitor programmed death 1 (PD1) has demonstrated remarkable success in the clinic for the treatment of cancer; however, a majority of tumors are resistant to anti-PD1 monotherapy. Numerous ongoing clinical combination therapy studies will likely reveal additional therapeutics that complement anti-PD1 blockade. Recent studies found that immunogenic cell death (ICD) improves T cell responses against different tumors, thus indicating that ICD may further augment antitumor immunity elicited by anti-PD1. Here, we observed antitumor activity following combinatorial therapy with anti-PD1 Ab and the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor dinaciclib in immunocompetent mouse tumor models. Dinaciclib induced a type I IFN gene signature within the tumor, leading us to hypothesize that dinaciclib potentiates the effects of anti-PD1 by eliciting ICD. Indeed, tumor cells treated with dinaciclib showed the hallmarks of ICD including surface calreticulin expression and release of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) and ATP. Mice treated with both anti-PD1 and dinaciclib showed increased T cell infiltration and DC activation within the tumor, indicating that this combination improves the overall quality of the immune response generated. These findings identify a potential mechanism for the observed benefit of combining dinaciclib and anti-PD1, in which dinaciclib induces ICD, thereby converting the tumor cell into an endogenous vaccine and boosting the effects of anti-PD1.

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