Purpose: Conditioning strategies constitute a relatively unexplored and exciting opportunity to shape tumor fate by targeting the tumor microenvironment. In this study, we assessed how hemin, a pharmacologic inducer of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), has an impact on prostate cancer development in an in vivo conditioning model. Experimental Design: The stroma of C57BL/6 mice was conditioned by subcutaneous administration of hemin prior to TRAMP-C1 tumor challenge. Complementary in vitro and in vivo assays were performed to evaluate hemin effect on both angiogenesis and the immune response. To gain clinical insight, we used prostate cancer patient-derived samples in our studies to assess the expression of HO-1 and other relevant genes. Results: Conditioning resulted in increased tumor latency and decreased initial growth rate. Histologic analysis of tumors grown in conditioned mice revealed impaired vascularization. Hemin-treated human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) exhibited decreased tubulogenesis in vitro only in the presence of TRAMP-C1-conditioned media. Subcutaneous hemin conditioning hindered tumor-associated neovascularization in an in vivo Matrigel plug assay. In addition, hemin boosted CD8+ T-cell proliferation and degranulation in vitro and antigen-specific cytotoxicity in vivo. A significant systemic increase in CD8+ T-cell frequency was observed in preconditioned tumor-bearing mice. Tumors from hemin-conditioned mice showed reduced expression of galectin-1 (Gal-1), key modulator of tumor angiogenesis and immunity, evidencing persistent remodeling of the microenvironment. We also found a subset of prostate cancer patient-derived xenografts and prostate cancer patient samples with mild HO-1 and low Gal-1 expression levels. Conclusions: These results highlight a novel function of a human-used drug as a means of boosting the antitumor response.
Bibliographical note© 2017 American Association for Cancer Research