Tipping the immunostimulatory and inhibitory DAMP balance to harness immunogenic cell death

K. Hayashi, F. Nikolos, Y. C. Lee, A. Jain, E. Tsouko, H. Gao, A. Kasabyan, H. E. Leung, A. Osipov, S. Y. Jung, A. V. Kurtova, K. S. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Induction of tumor cell death is the therapeutic goal for most anticancer drugs. Yet, a mode of drug-induced cell death, known as immunogenic cell death (ICD), can propagate antitumoral immunity to augment therapeutic efficacy. Currently, the molecular hallmark of ICD features the release of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) by dying cancer cells. Here, we show that gemcitabine, a standard chemotherapy for various solid tumors, triggers hallmark immunostimualtory DAMP release (e.g., calreticulin, HSP70, and HMGB1); however, is unable to induce ICD. Mechanistic studies reveal gemcitabine concurrently triggers prostaglandin E2 release as an inhibitory DAMP to counterpoise the adjuvanticity of immunostimulatory DAMPs. Pharmacological blockade of prostaglandin E2 biosythesis favors CD103+ dendritic cell activation that primes a Tc1-polarized CD8+ T cell response to bolster tumor rejection. Herein, we postulate that an intricate balance between immunostimulatory and inhibitory DAMPs could determine the outcome of drug-induced ICD and pose COX-2/prostaglandin E2 blockade as a strategy to harness ICD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6299
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Tipping the immunostimulatory and inhibitory DAMP balance to harness immunogenic cell death'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this