Introduction: Depending on their polarization, myeloid cells can either promote or restrain tumor progression. By secreting myelopoietic factors tumours promote myeloid cells polarization toward a phenotype that provides immune protection and that stimulate neoplastic cells growth, invasiveness, and metastasis. Chemokines and their cognate receptors are thought to play a key role in myeloid cell trafficking, however, their study in vivo is hindered by their signal redundancy and integration.

Methods: By taking advantage of a newly developed nanoplatform that allows the in vivo preferential transfection of tumor infiltrating myeloid cells (TIMC, aka Myeloid derived suppressor cells, MDSC, and tumor associated macrophages, TAM), we evaluated the effect of CCR-1, CCR-2, CCR-4, CCR-5 and/or CCR-7 silencing on TAMC trafficking, phenotype, and function.

Results: While CCR-4 and -7 targeted silencing did not affect tumor progression, simultaneous silencing of CCR-1 and CCR-5 significantly restrained tumor growth and greatly modifies tumor micro-environment. Mechanistic in vivo and in vitro analysis surprisingly indicate that myeloid cell trafficking was not altered whereas myeloid cell polarization was. In particular, CCR-1 and CCR-5 blockade restrained MDSC differentiation and promote the accumulation of retinoblastoma positive, neutrophil-like cells with a strong tumoricidal activity.

Discussion: Our data indicate that CCR-1 and CCR-5 engagement (most likely via CCL-3 and CCL-4) is necessary for the pro-tumoral polarization of myeloid cells in cancer. Our findings not only improve our understanding of myeloid cells differentiation in cancer but, also, strongly suggest that targeted inhibition of CCR1 and CCR5 on TIMC can be a new and effective anti-tumor immune-therapeutic strategy that convert pro-tumoral MDSCs into tumoricidal neutrophils.

Citation Format: Serena Zilio, Jennifer Vella, Adriana De La Fuente, Vincenzo Bronte, Emilia Mazza, Silvio Bicciato, Paolo Serafini. In vivo targeted silencing of CCR1 and CCR5 repolarizes pro-tumoral myeloid cells in retinoblastoma positive neutrophils with a strong anti-tumor activity. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2016 Apr 16-20; New Orleans, LA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2016;76(14 Suppl):Abstract nr 1449.