Kinase inhibitor Sorafenib modulates immunosuppressive cell populations in a murine liver cancer model

Mengde Cao, Yiling Xu, Je In Youn, Roniel Cabrera, Xiaokui Zhang, Dmitry Gabrilovich, David R. Nelson, Chen Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Accumulating evidence suggests that regulatory T cells (Tregs) and myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) are elevated in cancer patients and tumor-bearing hosts, and that depletion of Tregs and MDSC may enhance the anti-tumor immunity of the host. Sorafenib, a novel multi-kinase inhibitor, is approved for the treatment of several human cancers, including advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Sorafenib is believed to inhibit tumor growth via anti-angiogenesis, cell cycle arrest, and inducing apoptosis. However, the impact of Sorafenib on immune cell populations in tumor-bearing hosts is unclear. In this report, we show that Tregs and MDSC are increased in the spleens and bone marrows of the BALB/c mice with liver hepatoma. The increase in Tregs and MDSC was positively correlated with tumor burden. Treatment of Sorafenib not only inhibited HCC cell growth in mice but also significantly decreased the suppressive immune cell populations: Tregs and MDSC. In conclusion, our study strongly suggests that Sorafenib can enhance anti-tumor immunity via modulating immunosuppressive cell populations in the murine liver cancer model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)598-608
Number of pages11
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


  • Sorafenib
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • kinase inhibitor
  • myeloid-derived suppressor cells
  • regulatory T cells


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