Cancer-secreted exosomal miR-1468-5p promotes tumor immune escape via the immunosuppressive reprogramming of lymphatic vessels
Cancer-associated lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) are an active barrier to the effector arm of the anti-tumor immune response; however, it remains unclear how LECs become immunosuppressive in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Exosomal microRNAs (miRNAs) have recently been implicated in intercellular crosstalk within the TME. Here, we report a mechanistic model via which cervical cancer-secreted, exosome-encapsulated microRNA (miR)-1468-5p promotes lymphatic PD-L1 upregulation and lymphangiogenesis to impair T cell immunity. Subsequently, exosomal miR-1468-5p epigenetically activates the JAK2/STAT3 pathway in LECs by directly targeting homeobox containing 1 (HMBOX1) in the SOCS1 promoter, activating an immunosuppressive program that allows cancer cells to escape anti-cancer immunity. Furthermore, clinical data reveal that high serum exosomal miR-1468-5p levels correlate with TME immunosuppressive status and poor prognosis in cervical cancer (CCa) patients. Taken together, our results suggest that cancer-secreted exosomal miR-1468-5p instructs LECs to form an integrated immunosuppressive TME component and may be a prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target for CCa.