Tumor-Derived Transforming Growth Factor-β is Critical for Tumor Progression and Evasion from Immune Surveillance


Tumors have evolved numerous mechanisms by which they can escape from immune surveillance. One of these is to produce immunosuppressive cytokines. Transforming growth factor-β(TGF-β) is a pleiotropic cytokine with a crucial function in mediating immune suppression, especially in the tumor  microenvironment. TGF-β produced by T cells has been demonstrated as an important factor for suppressing antitumor immune responses, but the role of tumor-derived TGF-β in this process is poorly understood. In this study, we demonstrated that knockdown of tumor-derived TGF-β using shRNA resulted in dramatically reduced tumor size, slowing tumor formation, prolonging survival rate of tumor-bearing mice and inhibiting metastasis. We revealed possible underlying mechanisms as reducing the number of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) and CD4+Foxp3+ Treg cells, and consequently enhanced IFN-γ production by CTLs. Knockdown of tumor-derived TGF-β also significantly reduced the conversion of naïve CD4+ T cells into Treg cells in vitro. Finally, we found that knockdown of TGF-β suppressed cell migration, but did not change the proliferation and apoptosis of tumor cells in vitro. In summary, our study provided evidence that tumor-derived TGF-β is a critical factor for tumor progression and evasion of immune surveillance, and blocking tumor-derived TGF-β may serve as a potential therapeutic approach for cancer.