The CD73/Ado System - A New Player in RT Induced Adverse Late Effects.
Radiotherapy (RT) is a central component of standard treatment for many cancer patients. RT alone or in multimodal treatment strategies has a documented contribution to enhanced local control and overall survival of cancer patients, and cancer cure. Clinical RT aims at maximizing tumor control, while minimizing the risk for RT-induced adverse late effects. However, acute and late toxicities of IR in normal tissues are still important biological barriers to successful RT: While curative RT may not be tolerable, sub-optimal tolerable RT doses will lead to fatal outcomes by local recurrence or metastatic disease, even when accepting adverse normal tissue effects that decrease the quality of life of irradiated cancer patients. Technical improvements in treatment planning and the increasing use of particle therapy have allowed for a more accurate delivery of IR to the tumor volume and have thereby helped to improve the safety profile of RT for many solid tumors. With these technical and physical strategies reaching their natural limits, current research for improving the therapeutic gain of RT focuses on innovative biological concepts that either selectively limit the adverse effects of RT in normal tissues without protecting the tumor or specifically increase the radiosensitivity of the tumor tissue without enhancing the risk of normal tissue complications. The biology-based optimization of RT requires the identification of biological factors that are linked to differential radiosensitivity of normal or tumor tissues, and are amenable to therapeutic targeting. Extracellular adenosine is an endogenous mediator critical to the maintenance of homeostasis in various tissues. Adenosine is either released from stressed or injured cells or generated from extracellular adenine nucleotides by the concerted action of the ectoenzymes ectoapyrase (CD39) and 5' ectonucleotidase (NT5E, CD73) that catabolize ATP to adenosine. Recent work revealed a role of the immunoregulatory CD73/adenosine system in radiation-induced fibrotic disease in normal tissues suggesting a potential use as novel therapeutic target for normal tissue protection. The present review summarizes relevant findings on the pathologic roles of CD73 and adenosine in radiation-induced fibrosis in different organs (lung, skin, gut, and kidney) that have been obtained in preclinical models and proposes a refined model of radiation-induced normal tissue toxicity including the disease-promoting effects of radiation-induced activation of CD73/adenosine signaling in the irradiated tissue environment. However, expression and activity of the CD73/adenosine system in the tumor environment has also been linked to increased tumor growth and tumor immune escape, at least in preclinical models. Therefore, we will discuss the use of pharmacologic inhibition of CD73/adenosine-signaling as a promising strategy for improving the therapeutic gain of RT by targeting both, malignant tumor growth and adverse late effects of RT with a focus on fibrotic disease. The consideration of the therapeutic window is particularly important in view of the increasing use of RT in combination with various molecularly targeted agents and immunotherapy to enhance the tumor radiation response, as such combinations may result in increased or novel toxicities, as well as the increasing number of cancer survivors.