Blockade of immune checkpoint proteins (e.g., CTLA-4, PD-1) improves overall survival in advanced melanoma; however, therapeutic benefit is limited to only a subset of patients. Because checkpoint blockade acts by “removing the brakes” on effector T cells, the efficacy of checkpoint blockade may be constrained by the limited pool of melanoma-reactive T cells in the periphery. In the thymus, autoimmune regulator (Aire) promotes deletion of T cells reactive against self-antigens that are also expressed by tumors. Thus, while protecting against autoimmunity, Aire also limits the generation of melanoma-reactive T cells. Here, we show that Aire deficiency in mice expands the pool of CD4+ T cells capable of melanoma cell eradication and has additive effects with anti–CTLA-4 antibody in slowing melanoma tumor growth and increasing survival. Moreover, pharmacologic blockade of central T cell tolerance and peripheral checkpoint blockade in combination enhanced antimelanoma immunity in a synergistic manner. In melanoma patients treated with anti–CTLA-4 antibody, clinical response to therapy was associated with a human Aire polymorphism. Together, these findings suggest that Aire-mediated central tolerance constrains the efficacy of peripheral checkpoint inhibition and point to simultaneous blockade of Aire and checkpoint inhibitors as a novel strategy to enhance antimelanoma immunity.
Pearl Bakhru, Meng-Lei Zhu, Hsing-Hui Wang, Lee K. Hong, Imran Khan, Maria Mouchess, Ajay S. Gulati, Joshua Starmer, Yafei Hou, David Sailer, Sandra Lee, Fengmin Zhao, John M. Kirkwood, Stergios Moschos, Lawrence Fong, Mark S. Anderson, Maureen A. Su
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.