The tyrosine kinase inhibitors sorafenib and sunitinib are approved for the treatment of patients with malignant diseases. To analyze the possible use of these compounds in combination with immunotherapeutic approaches, we analyzed the effects of both inhibitors on the immunostimulatory capacity of human dendritic cells (DCs) and the induction of primary immune responses in vivo. Sorafenib, but not sunitinib, inhibits function of DCs, characterized by reduced secretion of cytokines and expression of CD1a, major histocompatibility complex, and costimulatory molecules in response to TLR ligands as well as by their impaired ability to migrate and stimulate T-cell responses. These inhibitory effects are mediated by inhibition of PI3 and MAP kinases and NFkappaB signaling. In contrast, sorafenib had no influence on the phenotype and proliferation of T cells. To analyze the effects of both TKIs on cytotoxic T-cell induction in vivo, C57BL/6 mice were pretreated with sorafenib or sunitinib and immunized with OVA(257-264) peptide. Sorafenib, but not sunitinib, application significantly reduced the induction of antigen-specific T cells. Numbers of regulatory T cells were reduced in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from mice treated with sunitinib. These results indicate that sunitinib, but not sorafenib, is suitable for combination with immunotherapeutic approaches for treatment of cancer patients.
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