Murine cytomegalovirus infection of melanoma lesions delays tumor growth by recruiting and re-polarizing monocytic phagocytes in the tumor
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a ubiquitous β-herpesvirus that infects many different cell types. CMV has been found in several solid tumors and it has been hypothesized that it may promote cellular transformation or exacerbate tumor growth. Paradoxically, in some experimental situations, CMV infection delays tumor growth. We previously showed that wild-type murine (M)CMV delayed the growth of poorly immunogenic B16 melanomas via an undefined mechanism. Here we show that MCMV delayed that growth of
... ese immunologically "cold" tumors by recruiting and modulating tumor-associated macrophages. Depletion of monocytic phagocytes with clodronate completely prevented MCMV from delaying tumor growth. Mechanistically, our data suggest that MCMV recruits new macrophages to the tumor via the virus-encoded chemokine MCK2, and viruses lacking this chemokine were unable to delay tumor growth. Moreover, MCMV infection of macrophages drove them toward an M1-like state. Importantly, adaptive immune responses were also necessary for MCMV to delay tumor growth as the effect was substantially blunted in Rag-deficient animals. However, viral spread was not needed and a spread-defective MCMV strain was equally effective. In most mice, the anti-tumor effect of MCMV was transient. Although the recruited macrophages persisted, tumor regrowth correlated with a loss of viral activity in the tumor. However, an additional round of MCMV infection further delayed tumor growth, suggesting that tumor growth delay was dependent on active viral infection. Together, our results suggest that MCMV infection delayed the growth of an immunologically "cold" tumor by recruiting and modulating macrophages in order to promote anti-tumor immune responses.