The Sympathetic Nervous System Modulates Cancer Vaccine Activity through Monocyte-Derived Cells

Louis Hinkle, Yongbin Liu, Chaoyang Meng, Zhe Chen, Junhua Mai, Licheng Zhang, Yitian Xu, Ping-Ying Pan, Shu-Hsia Chen, Haifa Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is an important regulator of immune cell function during homeostasis and states of inflammation. Recently, the SNS has been found to bolster tumor growth and impair the development of antitumor immunity. However, it is unclear whether the SNS can modulate APC function. Here, we investigated the effects of SNS signaling in murine monocyte-derived macrophages (moMФ) and dendritic cells (DCs) and further combined the nonspecific β-blocker propranolol with a peptide cancer vaccine for the treatment of melanoma in mice. We report that norepinephrine treatment dramatically altered moMФ cytokine production, whereas DCs were unresponsive to norepinephrine and critically lack β2-adrenergic receptor expression. In addition, we show that propranolol plus cancer vaccine enhanced peripheral DC maturation, increased the intratumor proportion of effector CD8+ T cells, and decreased the presence of intratumor PD-L1+ myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Furthermore, this combination dramatically reduced tumor growth compared with vaccination alone. Taken together, these results offer insights into the cell-specific manner by which the SNS regulates the APC immune compartment and provide strong support for the use of propranolol in combination with cancer vaccines to improve patient response rates and survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)
StateE-pub ahead of print - Nov 12 2021


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