The administration of drugs inhibiting cholesterol/oxysterol synthesis is safe and increases the efficacy of immunotherapeutic regimens in tumor-bearing mice

Claudia Lanterna, Andrea Musumeci, Laura Raccosta, Gianfranca Corna, Marta Moresco, Daniela Maggioni, Raffaella Fontana, Claudio Doglioni, Claudio Bordignon, Catia Traversari, Vincenzo Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Tumor-derived metabolites dampen tumor-infiltrating immune cells and antitumor immune responses. Among the various metabolites produced by tumors, we recently showed that cholesterol oxidized products, namely oxysterols, favor tumor growth through the inhibition of DC migration toward lymphoid organs and by promoting the recruitment of pro-tumor neutrophils within the tumor microenvironment. Here, we tested different drugs capable of blocking cholesterol/oxysterol formation. In particular, we tested efficacy and safety of different administration schedules, and of immunotherapy-based combination of a class of compounds, namely zaragozic acids, which inhibit cholesterol pathway downstream of mevalonate formation, thus leaving intact the formation of the isoprenoids, which are required for the maturation of proteins involved in the immune cell function. We show that zaragozic acids inhibit the in vivo growth of the RMA lymphoma and the Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) without inducing side effects. Tumor growth inhibition requires an intact immune system, as immunodeficient tumor-bearing mice do not respond to zaragozic acid treatment. Of note, the effect of zaragozic acids is accompanied by a marked reduction in the LXR target genes Abcg1, Mertk, Scd1 and Srebp-1c in the tumor microenvironment. On the other hand, zoledronate, which blocks also isoprenoid formation, did not control the LLC tumor growth. Finally, we show that zaragozic acids potentiate the antitumor effects of active and adoptive immunotherapy, significantly prolonging the overall survival of tumor-bearing mice treated with the combo zaragozic acids and TAA-loaded DCs. This study identifies zaragozic acids as new antitumor compounds exploitable for the treatment of cancer patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303 - 1315
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016



  • Cholesterol
  • Immune evasion
  • LXR
  • Oxysterols
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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