DFMO and 5-azacytidine increase M1 macrophages in the tumor microenvironment of murine ovarian cancer

Meghan Travers, Stephen M. Brown, Matthew Dunworth, Cassandra E. Holbert, Karla R. Wiehagen, Kurtis E. Bachman, Jackson R. Foley, Meredith L. Stone, Stephen B. Baylin, Robert A. Casero, Cynthia A. Zahnow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although ovarian cancer has a low incidence rate, it remains the most deadly gynecologic malignancy. Previous work has demonstrated that the DNMTi 5-Azacytidine (5AZA-C) activates type I interferon signaling to increase IFNγ+ T cells and natural killer (NK) cells and reduce the percentage of macrophages in the tumormicroenvironment. To improve the efficacy of epigenetic therapy, we hypothesized that the addition of α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), an ornithine decarboxylase inhibitor, may further decrease immunosuppressive cell populations improving outcome. We tested this hypothesis in an immunocompetent mouse model for ovarian cancer and found that in vivo, 5AZA-C and DFMO, either alone or in combination, significantly increased survival, decreased tumor burden, and caused recruitment of activated (IFNγ+) CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, and NK cells. The combination therapy had a striking increase in survival when compared with single-agent treatment, despite a smaller difference in recruited lymphocytes. Instead, combination therapy led to a significant decrease in immunosuppressive cells such as M2 polarized macrophages and an increase in tumor-killing M1 macrophages. In this model, depletion of macrophages with a CSF1Rblocking antibody reduced the efficacy of 5AZA-C + DFMO treatment and resulted in fewer M1 macrophages in the tumor microenvironment. These observations suggest our novel combination therapy modifies macrophage polarization in the tumor microenvironment, recruiting M1 macrophages and prolonging survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3445-3454
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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