Epigenetic therapy to enhance therapeutic effects of PD-1 inhibition in therapy-resistant melanoma

Vasu R Sah, Joakim Karlsson, Henrik Jespersen, Mattias F Lindberg, Lisa M Nilsson, Lars Ny, Jonas A Nilsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Web of Science)


Targeted therapy and immunotherapy have revolutionized the treatment of metastatic skin melanoma but around half of all patients develop resistance early or late during treatment. The situation is even worse for patients with metastatic uveal melanoma (UM). Here we hypothesized that the immunotherapy of therapy-resistant skin melanoma or UM can be enhanced by epigenetic inhibitors. Cultured B16F10 cells and human UM cells were treated with the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) entinostat or BETi JQ1. Entinostat-induced HLA expression and PD-L1, but JQ1 did not. A syngeneic mouse model carrying B16-F10 melanoma cells was treated with PD-1 and CTLA4 inhibitors, which was curative. Co-treatment with the bioavailable BETi iBET726 impaired the immunotherapy effect. Monotherapy of a B16-F10 mouse model with anti-PD-1 resulted in a moderate therapeutic effect that could be enhanced by entinostat. Mice carrying PD-L1 knockout B16-F10 cells were also sensitive to entinostat. This suggests HDAC inhibition and immunotherapy could work in concert. Indeed, co-cultures of UM with HLA-matched melanoma-specific tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) resulted in higher TIL-mediated melanoma killing when entinostat was added. Further exploration of combined immunotherapy and epigenetic therapy in metastatic melanoma resistant to PD-1 inhibition is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalMelanoma Research
Issue number4
Early online date10 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


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