Immunotherapy for malignant brain tumors by active immunization or adoptive transfer of tumor antigen-specific T lymphocytes has the potential to make up for some of the limitations of current clinical therapy. In this study, the authors tested whether active immunotherapy is curative in mice bearing advanced, rapidly progressive intracranial tumors.
Tumor vaccines were created through electrofusion of dendritic cells (DCs) and irradiated tumor cells to form multinucleated heterokaryons that retained the potent antigen processing and costimulatory function of DCs as well as the entire complement of tumor antigens. Murine hosts bearing intracranial GL261 glioma or MCA 205 fibrosarcoma were treated with a combination of local cranial radiotherapy, intrasplenic vaccination with DC/tumor fusion cells, and anti-OX40R (CD134) monoclonal antibody (mAb) 7 days after tumor inoculation.
Whereas control mice had a median survival of approximately 20 days, the treated mice underwent complete tumor regression that was immunologically specific. Seven days after vaccination treated mice demonstrated robust infiltration of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, which was exclusively confined to the tumor without apparent neurological toxicity. Cured mice survived longer than 120 days with no evidence of tumor recurrence and resisted intracranial tumor challenge.
These data indicate a strategy to achieve an antitumor response against tumors in the central nervous system that is highly focused from both immunological and anatomical perspectives.