Dual angiopoietin-2 and VEGFA inhibition elicits antitumor immunity that is enhanced by PD-1 checkpoint blockade

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Abstract

Pathological angiogenesis is a hallmark of cancer and a therapeutic target. Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) and angiopoietin-2 (ANGPT2; also known as ANG2) are proangiogenic cytokines that sustain tumor angiogenesis and limit antitumor immunity. We show that combined ANGPT2 and VEGFA blockade by a bispecific antibody (A2V) provided superior therapeutic benefits, as compared to the single agents, in both genetically engineered and transplant tumor models, including metastatic breast cancer (MMTV-PyMT), pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (RIP1-Tag2), and melanoma. Mechanistically, A2V promoted vascular regression, tumor necrosis, and antigen presentation by intratumoral phagocytes. A2V also normalized the remaining blood vessels and facilitated the extravasation and perivascular accumulation of activated, interferon-γ (IFNγ)–expressing CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). Whereas the antitumoral activity of A2V was, at least partly, CTL-dependent, perivascular T cells concurrently up-regulated the expression of the immune checkpoint ligand programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) in tumor endothelial cells. IFNγ neutralization blunted this adaptive response, and PD-1 blockade improved tumor control by A2V in different cancer models. These findings position immune cells as key effectors of antiangiogenic therapy and support the rationale for cotargeting angiogenesis and immune checkpoints in cancer therapy.

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