Immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) has a limited effect on colorectal cancer, underlining the requirement of co-targeting the complementary mechanisms. Here, we identified prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) receptor 4 (EP4) as the master regulator of immunosuppressive myeloid cells (IMCs), which are the major driver of resistance to ICB therapy. PGE2-bound EP4 promotes the differentiation of immunosuppressive M2 macrophages and myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and reduces the expansion of immunostimulated M1 macrophages. To explore the immunotherapeutic role of EP4 signaling, we developed a novel and selective EP4 antagonist TP-16. TP-16 effectively blocked the function of IMCs and enhanced cytotoxic T-cell-mediated tumor elimination in vivo. Cell co-culture experiments revealed that TP-16 promoted T-cell proliferation, which was impaired by tumor-derived CD11b+ myeloid cells. Notably, TP-16 and anti-PD-1 combination therapy significantly impeded tumor progression and prolonged mice survival. We further demonstrated that TP-16 increased responsiveness to anti-PD-1 therapy in an IMC-related spontaneous colorectal cancer mouse model. In summary, this study demonstrates that inhibition of EP4-expressing IMCs may offer a potential strategy for enhancing the efficacy of immunotherapy for colorectal cancer.
- colorectal cancer
- immunosuppressive myeloid cells
- prostaglandin E2 receptor 4