Immune checkpoint inhibitors have shed light on the importance of antitumor immunity as a therapeutic strategy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The altered glucose metabolism known as the Warburg effect recently has gained attention as a cancer immune-resistance mechanism. Considering glycolysis inhibitors as therapeutic agents, their specific delivery to cancer cells is critical not to induce adverse effects. Thus, we investigated antitumor effects of a glycolysis inhibitor, consisting of 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2DG)-encapsulated poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanoparticles (2DG-PLGA-NPs), against hepatocellular carcinoma in mice.
The antitumor effects of 2DG-PLGA-NPs were examined using hepatoma cell lines, xenograft tumors, and hepatocarcinogenic and syngeneic mouse models.
The 2DG-PLGA-NPs induced cytotoxic effects and antitumor immunity through enhanced T-cell trafficking. In addition, 2DG-PLGA-NPs induced decreased lactate production and increased interferon-γ–positive T cells in liver tumors. Human CD8 + T cells cocultured with 2DG-PLGA-NP–treated Huh7 cells showed their increased interferon-γ production and glucose uptake compared with the CD8 + T cells co-cultured with PLGA-NP–treated Huh7 cells. Chemotaxis of CD8 + T cells was suppressed by lactate and enhanced by glucose. Interferon-γ enhanced CD8 + T-cell chemotaxis in both an autocrine and paracrine manner. Notably, the 2DG-PLGA-NPs augmented chemokine (CXCL9/CXCL10) production in liver tumors via interferon-γ–Janus kinase–signal transducers and activator of transcription pathway and 5′ adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase–mediated suppression of histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation. These 2DG-PLGA-NPs not only amplified antitumor effects induced by sorafenib or an anti–programmed death-1 antibody, but also suppressed anti–programmed death-1–resistant tumors.
The newly developed 2DG-PLGA-NPs showed antitumor immunity and cytotoxicity in liver tumors in mice, suggesting the potential of 2DG-PLGA-NPs for future clinical applications.