Although PD-1 pathway inhibitors are revolutionizing cancer treatment, the mechanisms by which PD-1 regulates antitumor immunity are not fully understood. To determine PD-1 functions on different cell types, we used PD-1 conditional knockout mice. Subcutaneous transplantation of MC38 adenocarcinoma tumor cells in mice with complete deletion of PD-1 selectively on CD8+ T cells improved CD8+ T functions in the tumor microenvironment (TME). CD8+ T cells were required for the protective effects of PD-1 deletion in this model. To assess whether loss of PD-1 on all cells was necessary for improved antitumor immunity, we restricted PD-1 deletion to only half of the T-cell population. We hypothesized that a cell-intrinsic loss of PD-1 was necessary for improved T-cell fitness and effector functions. Here, deletion of PD-1 indeed led to T cell-intrinsic boosts in function. Unexpectedly, however, there was also a bystander effect that improved functions of PD-1-expressing CD8+ T cells in the TME. These data suggest that complete loss of PD-1 is not necessary for optimal tumor immunity, a finding that has important implications for applying PD-1-based immunotherapies to cancer patients.

This abstract is also being presented as Poster B82.

Citation Format: Kristen E. Pauken, Vikram R. Juneja, Alison Ringel, Jared H. Rowe, Kelly P. Burke, Peter T. Sage, Martin W. LaFleur, Juhi R. Kuchroo, Noga Ron-Harel, Seth Maleri, Jaclyn M. Long, Gordon J. Freeman, Nicolas Chevrier, Marcia C. Haigis, Arlene H. Sharpe. Loss of PD-1 promotes antitumor immunity by improving functions of both PD-1+ and PD-1- CD8+ T cells in the tumor microenvironment [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Special Conference on Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy; 2019 Nov 17-20; Boston, MA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Immunol Res 2020;8(3 Suppl):Abstract nr PR9.