Circulating cell-free DNA directly inhibits T cell function and contributes to peripheral immunosuppression in experimental GBM

Katayoun Ayasoufi, Delaney M. Wolf, Rachael A. Reesman, Frances A. Rangel, Lauren R. Gulbicki,Zachariah Tritz,Fang Jin,Michael Hansen,Cori E. Fain,Christian K. Pfaller,Aaron J. Johnson

Journal of Immunology(2023)

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Abstract Glioblastoma (GBM) is an incurable brain cancer that is associated with severe peripheral immunosuppression. This immunosuppression is a critical barrier to patient survival and the success of immunotherapies. C57BL/6 mice harboring GL261 gliomas present with the hallmark features of peripheral immunosuppression observed in GBM patients, including T cell lymphopenia. We determined that peripheral immunosuppression involves release of non-steroidal soluble factors with large molecular weight that are found in sera of glioma-bearing mice. Sera of glioma-bearing mice inhibits T cell proliferation ex vivo. To determine the identity of the immunosuppressive molecules in serum, we used two parallel approaches: 1.) evaluation of abundant macromolecules and 2.) proteomics analysis using tandem mass tag mass-spectrometry (TMT-MS). We determined that serum of glioma-bearing mice contains significantly higher levels of cell free DNA (cfDNA) compared to controls. TMT-MS identified histones as a highly abundant protein in serum, further implicating DNA-histone complexes as top candidates. DNAse treatment of sera isolated from GL261 glioma-bearing mice reduced the suppressive effect on T cell proliferation. We next performed T cell proliferation assays in the presence of pure cfDNA isolated from sera of glioma-bearing mice while genomic DNA was used as control. cfDNA from serum potently inhibited T cell proliferation while control genomic DNA did not. These results were AIM2 independent implicating a novel pathway of DNA sensing in T cells. We contend that cfDNA induces immunosuppressive effects in experimental GBM. Devising strategies to reverse immunosuppression through targeting cfDNA could improve outcomes in GBM patients. Supported by grants from NIH (K99NS117799-01A1 (KA), R01NS103212 (AJJ), and RF1NS122174(AJJ) and Brains Together for a Cure Foundation (KA).
peripheral immunosuppression,cell-free
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