Immunotherapy is a promising strategy against hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We assessed the therapeutic effects of stimulating CD137, a member of the TNF receptor family, with agonistic monoclonal antibodies (mAb). Agonistic anti-CD137 mAb treatment was tested on two in situ models of HCC in immunocompetent mice. We also studied the mediators involved at different time points. In an orthotopic HCC the treatment consistently leads to complete tumor regression in 40-60% of animals. The protection is long lasting in the animals responding to the treatment, which can reject a second tumor challenge more than 3 months after treatment and eradication of the first malignancy. The main mediators of the effect are T lymphocytes and NK cells, demonstrated through depletion experiments. In addition, adoptive transfer of splenocytes prepared from anti-CD137 mAb-treated and -cured mice to naive mice allowed them to, in turn, reject the tumor. The efficacy of anti-CD137 mAb treatment is associated with early, sustained recruitment of iNOS-positive macrophages within tumor nodules. Moreover, in the absence of treatment, tumor development is accompanied by infiltration by myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSC) and regulatory T lymphocytes. In mice responding to the anti-CD137 mAb treatment, this infiltration is very limited, and a combination treatment with a depletion of MDSC leads to the recovery of 80% of the mice. These results demonstrate that agonistic anti-CD137 mAb is a promising therapeutic strategy for anti-tumor immunity stimulation against HCC.
In a previous study, we identified TRIB1, a serine-threonine kinase-like molecule, as a biomarker of chronic antibody-mediated rejection of human kidneys when measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Here, we focused our analysis on a specific subset of peripheral blood mononuclear cells that play a dominant role in regulating immune responses in health and disease, so-called CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs). We isolated both human and murine Treg and non-Treg counterparts and analyzed TRIB1 and Foxp3 mRNA expression by quantitative PCR on the freshly isolated cells or following 24 h of activation. Physical interaction between the human TRIB1 and Foxp3 proteins was analyzed in live cell lines by protein complementation assay using both flow cytometry and microscopy and confirmed in primary freshly isolated human CD4(+)CD25(hi)CD127(-) Tregs by co-immunoprecipitation. Both TRIB1 and Foxp3 were expressed at significantly higher levels in Tregs than in their CD4(+)CD25(-) counterparts (p < 0.001). Moreover, TRIB1 and Foxp3 mRNA levels correlated tightly in Tregs (Spearman r = 1.0; p < 0.001, n = 7), but not in CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells. The protein complementation assay revealed a direct physical interaction between TRIB1 and Foxp3 in live cells. This interaction was impaired upon deletion of the TRIB1 N-terminal but not the C-terminal domain, suggesting an interaction in the nucleus. This direct interaction within the nucleus was confirmed in primary human Tregs by co-immunoprecipitation. These data show a direct relationship between TRIB1 and Foxp3 in terms of their expression and physical interaction and highlight Tribbles-1 as a novel binding partner of Foxp3 in Tregs.
Preclinical studies have demonstrated that, unlike oncolytic adenoviruses, oncolytic vaccinia viruses can reach implanted tumors upon systemic injection. However, the biodistribution of this oncolytic agent in in situ autochthonous tumor models remains poorly characterized. In the present study, we assessed this biodistribution in a model of mouse hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) obtained after injection of the carcinogen diethylnitrosamine (DEN).
Immunotherapy represents a potential therapeutic option for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), especially as secondary treatment to prevent recurrence. It has been shown that a patients survival is directly correlated to the type and number of tumor-infiltrating immune cells, indicating that immune responses have a direct effect on the clinical course of the disease. We have assessed the potential of immunotherapy against HCC in preclinical models of low tumor burden. An antigen-specific strategy targeting ?-fetoprotein, and consisting of immunization with a DNA-based synthetic vector (DNAmAFP/704), was tested on an autochthonous model of chemical hepatocarcinogenesis and led to an important (65%) reduction of the tumor burden. A nonspecific approach of CD25(+) T-cell depletion by injection of PC61 antibody was also tested on an orthotopic HCC model and led to a significant protection against tumor development. Antigen-specific immunotherapy and Treg depletion are promising strategies in physiologically relevant HCC preclinical models. Future clinical trials will demonstrate if a combination of Treg depletion with an antigen-specific immunotherapy will also translate into clinical responses in HCC patients.
The Na/I symporter (hNIS) promotes concentration of iodine in cells. In cancer gene therapy, this transgene has potential as a reporter gene for molecular imaging of viral biodistribution and as a therapeutic protein promoting (131)I-mediated radiotherapy. Here, we combined the imaging and therapeutic potential of hNIS in an oncolytic adenoviruses targeting colorectal cancer cells.
Intramuscular (i.m.) DNA vaccination induces strong cellular immune responses in the mouse, but only at DNA doses that cannot be achieved in humans. Because antigen expression is weak after naked DNA injection, we screened five nonionic block copolymers of poly(ethyleneoxide)-poly(propyleneoxide) (PEO-PPO) for their ability to enhance DNA vaccination using a beta-galactosidase (betaGal) encoding plasmid, pCMV-betaGal, as immunogen. At a high DNA dose, formulation with the tetrafunctional block copolymers 304 (molecular weight [MW] 1,650) and 704 (MW 5,500) and the triblock copolymer Lutrol (MW 8,600) increased betaGal-specific interferon-gamma enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISPOT) responses 2-2.5-fold. More importantly, 704 allowed significant reductions in the dose of antigen-encoding plasmid. A single injection of 2 microg pCMV-betaGal with 704 gave humoral and ELISPOT responses equivalent to those obtained with 100 microg naked DNA and conferred protection in tumor vaccination models. However, 704 had no adjuvant properties for betaGal protein, and immune responses were only elicited by low doses of pCMV-betaGal formulated with 704 if noncoding carrier DNA was added to maintain total DNA dose at 20 microg. Overall, these results show that formulation with 704 and carrier DNA can reduce the dose of antigen-encoding plasmid by at least 50-fold.
To investigate the ability of recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (rMVA) vector to induce an immune response against a well-tolerated self-antigen.
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