There is a strong correlation between myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) and resistance to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB), but the detailed mechanisms underlying this correlation are largely unknown. Using single-cell RNA sequencing analysis in a bilateral tumor model, we found that immunosuppressive myeloid cells with characteristics of fatty acid oxidative metabolism dominate the immune-cell landscape in ICB-resistant subjects. In addition, we uncovered a previously underappreciated role of a serine/threonine kinase, PIM1, in regulating lipid oxidative metabolism via PPARg-mediated activities. Enforced PPARg expression sufficiently rescued metabolic and functional defects of Pim1-/- MDSCs. Consistent with this, pharmacologic inhibition of PIM kinase by AZD1208 treatment significantly disrupted the myeloid cell–mediated immunosuppressive microenvironment and unleashed CD8þ T-cell–mediated antitumor immunity, which enhanced PD-L1 blockade in preclinical cancer models. PIM kinase inhibition also sensitized nonresponders to PD-L1 blockade by selectively targeting suppressive myeloid cells. Overall, we have identified PIM1 as a metabolic modulator in MDSCs that is associated with ICB resistance and can be therapeutically targeted to overcome ICB resistance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research