STAT3 signaling constitutes an important negative feedback mechanism for the maintenance of immune homeostasis, a suppressive signal for the Th1 immune response in murine macrophages, and a cancer immune evasion signal in various immune cells. The strategy for STAT3 signal inhibition should be considered, because these features could impede effective cancer immunotherapy. We have evaluated the effects of STAT3 inactivation in dendritic cells (DCs) on immune responses in mice and humans. DCs derived from LysMcre/STAT3flox/flox mice displayed higher cytokine production in response to TLR stimulation, activated T cells more efficiently, and were more resistant to the suppression of cytokine production by cancer-derived immunosuppressive factors compared with DCs from control littermates. Antitumor activities of STAT3-depleted and control DCs were compared by intratumoral administration of gp70 Ag peptide-pulsed DCs in the therapeutic MC38 tumor model. Intratumoral administration of STAT3-depleted DCs significantly inhibited MC38 tumor growth of both injected and nontreated remote tumors. The inhibition was accompanied by an increase in gp70-specific T cell response as well as in systemic Th1 immune response. STAT3-depleted human DCs with adenoviral STAT3 short hairpin RNAwere also capable of producing more cytokines with TLR stimulation and more resistant to cancer-derived factors, and they induced tumor Ag-specific T cells more efficiently than control DCs. The identified role of DC STAT3 signaling in both in vivo therapeutic tumor models in mice and in vitro-specific T cell induction in humans indicates that STAT3-inactivated DCs may be a promising approach for cancer immunotherapy.
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