Cutting Edge: Polymicrobial Sepsis Has the Capacity to Reinvigorate Tumor-Infiltrating CD8 T Cells and Prolong Host Survival.


Interdisciplinary Program in Immunology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242; [Email]


Malignancy increases sepsis incidence 10-fold and elevates sepsis-associated mortality. Advances in treatment have improved survival of cancer patients shortly after sepsis, but there is a paucity of information on how sepsis impacts cancer growth, development, and prognosis. To test this, cecal ligation and puncture surgery was performed on B16 melanoma-bearing mice to show that sepsis has detrimental effects in hosts with advanced tumors, leading to increased mortality. Surprisingly, mice experiencing cecal ligation and puncture-induced sepsis earlier during tumor development exhibited CD8 T cell-dependent attenuation of tumor growth. Sepsis-resistant CD8 tumor-infiltrating T cells showed increased in vivo activation, effector IFN-γ cytokine production, proliferation, and expression of activation/inhibitory PD-1/LAG-3 receptors because of a sepsis-induced liberation of tumor Ags. Sepsis-reinvigorated CD8 tumor-infiltrating T cells were also amenable to (anti-PD-L1/LAG-3) checkpoint blockade therapy, further prolonging cancer-associated survival in sepsis survivors. Thus, sepsis has the capacity to improve tumor-specific CD8 T cell responses, leading to better cancer prognosis and increased survival.