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PD-1 Blockade in Mismatch Repair–Deficient, Locally Advanced Rectal Cancer

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A total of 12 patients have completed treatment with dostarlimab and have undergone at least 6 months of follow-up. All 12 patients (100%; 95% confidence interval, 74 to 100) had a clinical complete response, with no evidence of tumor on magnetic resonance imaging, 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose–positron-emission tomography, endoscopic evaluation, digital rectal examination, or biopsy. At the time of this report, no patients had received chemoradiotherapy or undergone surgery, and no cases of progression or recurrence had been reported during follow-up (range, 6 to 25 months). No adverse events of grade 3 or higher have been reported.



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The neurotransmitter serotonin is known to be involved in cell proliferation and cancer, but its role in the tumor microenvironment has been unexplored. Here, Schneider et al. used syngeneic mouse models of pancreatic and colorectal cancer to show that genetic knockdown of peripheral serotonin enhanced CD8+ T cell accumulation in tumors and reduced tumor growth. In addition, the pharmacological serotonin inhibitors fluoxetine and telotristat were able to enhance the effects of anti–PD-1 therapy to induce long-term tumor control in mice. These FDA-approved drugs suggest a promising combination treatment to improve cancer immunotherapy that warrants further clinical investigation.

Attenuation of peripheral serotonin inhibits tumor growth and enhances immune checkpoint blockade therapy

Platelet-derived peripheral serotonin has pleiotropic effects on coagulation, metabolism, tissue regeneration, and cancer growth; however, the effect of serotonin on the tumor microenvironment remains understudied. Peripheral serotonin–deficient (Tph1−/−) mice displayed reduced growth of subcutaneous and orthotopically injected syngeneic murine pancreatic and colorectal cancers with enhanced accumulation of functional CD8+ T cells compared to control C57BL/6 mice, resulting in extended overall survival. Subcutaneous and orthotopic syngeneic tumors from Tph1−/− mice expressed less programmed cell death 1 ligand 1 (PD-L1), suggesting serotonin-mediated regulation. Serotonin enhanced expression of PD-L1 on mouse and human cancer cells in vitro via serotonylation, which is the formation of covalent bonds between glutamine residues and serotonin, resulting in activation of small G proteins. Serotonin concentrations in metastases of patients with abdominal tumors negatively correlated to the number of CD8+ tumor-infiltrating T cells. Depletion of serotonin cargo or inhibition of serotonin release from thrombocytes decreased growth of syngeneic pancreatic and colorectal tumors in wild-type mice, increased CD8+ T cell influx, and decreased PD-L1 expression. Pharmacological serotonin depletion with oral fluoxetine or intraperitoneal injection of the TPH1 inhibitor telotristat augmented the effects of programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) checkpoint blockade and triggered long-term tumor control in mice subcutaneously inoculated with syngeneic colorectal and pancreatic tumors. Overall, peripheral serotonin weakens effector functions of CD8+ T cells within tumors. Clinically approved serotonin targeting agents alone or in combination with PD-1 blockade provided long-term control of established tumors in murine models, warranting further investigation of the clinical translatability of these findings.


Serotonin Makes Tumors Happy Too


Best ways to lower Serotonin



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