C5aR plus MEK inhibition durably targets the tumor milieu and reveals tumor cell phagocytosis


Plexiform neurofibromas (PNFs) are nerve tumors caused by loss of NF1 and dysregulation of RAS-MAPK signaling in Schwann cells. Most PNFs shrink in response to MEK inhibition, but targets with increased and durable effects are needed. We identified the anaphylatoxin C5a as increased in PNFs and expressed largely by PNF m acrophages. We defined pharmacokinetic and immunomodulatory properties of a C5aR1/2 antagonist and tested if peptide antagonists augment the effects of MEK inhibition. MEK inhibition recruited C5AR1 to the macrophage surface; short-term inhibition of C5aR elevated macrophage apoptosis and Schwann cell death, without affecting MEK-induced tumor shrinkage. PNF macrophages lacking C5aR1 increased the engulfment of dying Schwann cells, allowing their visualization. Halting combination therapy resulted in altered T-cell distribution, elevated Iba1+ and CD169+ immunoreactivity, and profoundly altered cytokine expression, but not sustained trumor shrinkage. Thus, C5aRA inhibition independently induces macrophage cell death and causes sustained and durable effects on the PNF microenvironment.
© 2024 Perrino et al.