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Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) creates an immunosuppressive environment to conventional T cells through Arginase 2 (ARG2)-induced arginine depletion. We identify that AML blasts release the acute phase protein serum amyloid A (SAA), which acts in an autocrine manner to upregulate ARG2 expression and activity, and promote AML blast viability. Following in vitro cross-talk invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells become activated, upregulate mitochondrial capacity, and release IFN-γ. iNKT retain their ability to proliferate and be activated despite the low arginine AML environment, due to the upregulation of Large Neutral Amino Acid Transporter-1 (LAT-1) and Argininosuccinate Synthetase 1 (ASS)-dependent amino acid pathways, resulting in AML cell death. T cell proliferation is restored in vitro and in vivo. The capacity of iNKT cells to restore antigen-specific T cell immunity was similarly demonstrated against myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in wild-type and Jα18-/- syngeneic lymphoma-bearing models in vivo. Thus, stimulation of iNKT cell activity has the potential as an immunotherapy against AML or as an adjunct to boost antigen-specific T cell immunotherapies in haematological or solid cancers.

Original publication




Journal article


Cancer Immunol Immunother

Publication Date



AML, ASS, Arginine, Cancer, LAT-1, iNKT