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Plasma Cell Polarization to the Immunoglobulin G Phenotype in Hepatocellular Carcinomas Involves Epigenetic Alterations and Promotes Hepatoma Progression in Mice.

Gastroenterology; 156(6): 1890-1904.e16, 2019 05.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30711627
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Little is known about the composition and generation of plasma cell subsets in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and how these associate with outcomes. We investigated whether, or how, plasma cells differentiate and function in patients with HCC and mice with liver tumors.

METHODS:

We analyzed subset composition and distribution of plasma cells in HCC samples from 342 patients who underwent curative resection at the Cancer Center of Sun Yat-sen University in China; samples of non-tumor liver tissue were used as controls. We associated plasma cell profiles with patient outcomes. Tissue-derived leukocytes were analyzed by flow cytometry and real-time polymerase chain reaction. The ability of macrophages to regulate plasma cell differentiation was determined in ex vivo cultures of cells from human HCC tissues. C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice were given injections of Hepa1-6 cells, which formed hepatomas, or H22 cells, which formed ascitic hepatomas. Gene expression patterns were analyzed in human HCC, mouse hepatoma, and non-tumor tissues by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Mice with hepatomas were given injections of GSK126 (an inhibitor of histone H3 lysine 27 methyltransferase [EZH2]) and 5-AZA-dC (an inhibitor of DNA methyltransferases); tumor tissues were analyzed by immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry for the presence of immune cells and cytokines.

RESULTS:

B cells isolated from HCCs had somatic hypermutations and class-switch recombinations to the IgG phenotype that were not observed in non-tumor tissues. Increased level of plasma cells correlated with poor outcomes of patients. Activated CD4+ T cells from HCCs stimulated C-X-C motif chemokine 10 (CXCL10) production by macrophages. CXCL10 bound CXC chemokine receptor 3 on B cells and signaled via extracellular signal-regulated kinase to cause them to become IgG-producing plasma cells. IgG activated Fc receptors on macrophages and induced them to produce interleukin 6, interleukin 10, and C-C motif chemokine ligand 20 (CCL20). In mice with hepatomas, depletion of B cells prevented generation of these macrophage, increased the anti-tumor T cell response, and reduced growth of hepatomas. However, these effects were lost after injection of CXC chemokine receptor 3-positive plasma cells. Human HCC and mouse hepatoma tissues had increased expression of DNA methyltransferase 1 and EZH2 compared with non-tumor tissues. Injection of mice with GSK126 and 5-AZA-dC induced expression of CXCL10 by tumor cells and caused plasma cell polarization, suppression of the anti-tumor T cell response, and hepatoma growth.

CONCLUSIONS:

Human HCC tissues contain B cells with class-switch recombinations to the IgG phenotype. Activated CD4+ T cells from HCCs stimulate CXCL10 production by macrophages; CXCL10 binds CXC chemokine receptor 3 on B cells and causes them to become IgG-producing plasma cells. IgG activates Fc receptor in macrophages to produce cytokines that reduce the anti-tumor immune response. In mice with hepatomas, depletion of B cells prevented generation of these macrophages, increased the anti-tumor T cell response, and reduced growth of hepatomas. This pathway involves increased expression of DNA methyltransferase 1 and EZH2 by HCC and hepatoma cells.