Expression of B7-H3 was found in multiple human and murine tumor types, and in tumor-infiltrating dendritic cells and macrophages. Knockout of B7-H3 or inhibition by antibodies reduced tumor growth in mice and was dependent on NK and CD8+ T cells. B7-H3 was found to directly inhibit the activation of NK cells in the tumor microenvironment and its deficiency improved their cytolytic function.
The interaction between tumor and the immune system is still poorly understood. Significant clinical responses have been achieved in cancer patients treated with antibodies against the CTLA4 and PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoints; however, only a small portion of patients responded to the therapies, indicating a need to explore additional co-inhibitory molecules for cancer treatment. B7-H3, a member of the B7 superfamily, was previously shown by us to inhibit T-cell activation and autoimmunity. In this study, we have analyzed the function of B7-H3 in tumor immunity. Expression of B7-H3 was found in multiple tumor lines, tumor-infiltrating dendritic cells, and macrophages. B7-H3-deficient mice or mice treated with an antagonistic antibody to B7-H3 showed reduced growth of multiple tumors, which depended on NK and CD8+ T cells. With a putative receptor expressed by cytotoxic lymphocytes, B7-H3 inhibited their activation, and its deficiency resulted in increased cytotoxic lymphocyte function in tumor-bearing mice. Combining blockades of B7-H3 and PD-1 resulted in further enhanced therapeutic control of late-stage tumors. Taken together, our results indicate that the B7-H3 checkpoint may serve as a novel target for immunotherapy against cancer.Cell Research advance online publication 7 July 2017; doi:10.1038/cr.2017.90.