T cell exhaustion occurs during chronic infection and cancers. Programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) is a major inhibitory checkpoint receptor involved in T cell exhaustion. Blocking antibodies (Abs) against PD-1 or its ligand, PD-L1, have been shown to reverse T cell exhaustion during chronic infection and cancers, leading to improved control of persistent antigen. However, modeling tumor-specific T cell responses in mouse has been difficult due to the lack of reagents to detect and phenotype tumor-specific immune responses. We developed a novel mouse glioma model expressing a viral epitope derived from lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), which allowed monitoring of tumor-specific CD8 T-cell responses. These CD8 T cells express high levels of PD-1 and are unable to reject tumors, but this can be reversed by anti-PD-1 treatment. These results suggest the efficacy of PD-1 blockade as a treatment for glioblastoma, an aggressive tumor that results in a uniformly lethal outcome. Importantly, this new syngeneic tumor model may also provide further opportunities to characterize anti-tumor T cell exhaustion and develop novel cancer immunotherapies.
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