Inhibition of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway enhances antitumor immunity in ovarian cancer

Academic Article


  • Background: The Wnt/β-catenin pathway is linked to tumorigenesis in a variety of tumors and promotes T cell exclusion and resistance to checkpoint inhibitors. We sought to determine whether a small molecule inhibitor of this pathway, WNT974, would impair tumor growth, affect gene expression patterns, and improve the immune response in human and murine ovarian cancer models. Methods: Human ovarian cancer cells were treated with WNT974 in vitro. RNAseq libraries were constructed and differences in gene expression patterns between responders and nonresponders were compared to The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Mice with subcutaneous or intraperitoneal ID8 ovarian cancer tumors were treated with WNT974, paclitaxel, combination, or control. Tumor growth and survival were measured. Flow cytometry and β-TCR repertoire analysis were used to determine the immune response. Results: Gene expression profiling revealed distinct signatures in responders and nonresponders, which strongly correlated with T cell infiltration patterns in the TCGA analysis of ovarian cancer. WNT974 inhibited tumor growth, prevented ascites formation, and prolonged survival in mouse models. WNT974 increased the ratio of CD8+ T cells to T regulatory cells (Tregs) in tumors and enhanced the effector functions of infiltrating CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Treatment also decreased the expression of inhibitory receptors on CD8+ T cells. Combining WNT974 with paclitaxel further reduced tumor growth, prolonged survival, and expanded the T cell repertoire. Conclusions: These findings suggest that inhibiting the Wnt/β-catenin pathway may have a potent immunomodulatory effect in the treatment of ovarian cancer, particularly when combined with paclitaxel.
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    Author List

  • Doo DW; Meza-Perez S; Londoño AI; Goldsberry WN; Katre AA; Boone JD; Moore DJ; Hudson CT; Betella I; McCaw TR
  • Volume

  • 12