Immune-checkpoint blockade antibodies have been approved for the treatment of cancer. However, poorly immunogenic tumours are less responsive to such therapies. Agonistic anti-Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) activate only cell-surface TLR4; in contrast, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) activates both TLR4 and intracellular inflammatory caspases. In this study, we investigated the adjuvant activity of an anti-TLR4 mAb in T-cell-mediated antitumour immunity. The anti-TLR4 mAb induced the activation of antigen-specific T-cells in adoptive transfer studies. The growth of ovalbumin (OVA)-expressing tumours was significantly suppressed by administration of OVA and the anti-TLR4 mAb in combination, but not individually. The antitumour effect of anti-PD-1 mAb was enhanced in mice administered with OVA plus the anti-TLR4 mAb. The OVA-specific IFN-γ-producing CD8 T-cells were induced by administration of OVA and the anti-TLR4 mAb. The suppression of tumour growth was diminished by depletion of CD8, but not CD4, T-cells. The inflammatory response to the anti-TLR4 mAb was of significantly lesser magnitude than that to LPS, as assessed by NF-κB activation and production of TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-1β. Administration of LPS (at a dose that elicited levels of proinflammatory cytokines comparable to those by the anti-TLR4 mAb) plus OVA induced no or less-marked activation of OVA-specific T-cells and failed to suppress tumour growth in mice. In conclusion, the agonistic anti-TLR4 mAb induces potent CD8 T-cell-dependent antitumour immunity and an inflammatory response of lesser magnitude than does LPS. The agonistic anti-TLR4 mAb has potential as an adjuvant for use in vaccines against cancer.
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