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1.  Evaluation of Monocytes as Carriers for Armed Oncolytic Adenoviruses in Murine and Syrian Hamster Models of Cancer 
Human Gene Therapy  2012;23(12):1258-1268.
Replication-competent (oncolytic) adenoviruses (OAV) can be adapted as vectors for the delivery of therapeutic genes, with the aim of extending the antitumor effect beyond direct cytolysis. Transgene expression using these vectors is usually intense but short-lived, and repeated administrations are hampered by the rapid appearance of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs). We have studied the performance of monocytes as cell carriers to improve transgene expression in cancer models established in athymic mice and immunocompetent Syrian hamsters. Human and hamster monocytic cell lines (MonoMac6 and HM-1, respectively) were loaded with replication-competent adenovirus-expressing luciferase. Intravenous administration of these cells caused a modest increase in transgene expression in tumor xenografts, but this effect was virtually lost in hamsters. In contrast, intratumoral administration of HM-1 cells allowed repeated cycles of expression and achieved partial protection from NAbs in preimmunized hamsters bearing pancreatic tumors. To explore the therapeutic potential of this approach, HM-1 cells were loaded with a hypoxia-inducible OAV expressing the immunostimulatory cytokine interleukin-12 (IL-12). Three cycles of treatment achieved a significant antitumor effect in the hamster model, and transgene expression was detected following each administration, in contrast with the rapid neutralization of the free virus. We propose monocytes as carriers for multiple intratumoral administrations of armed OAVs.
Bunuales and colleagues examine the therapeutic potential of monocytes as carrier cells of a replication-competent oncolytic adenovirus encoding IL-12 (OAV-12). Administration of monocytes carrying OAV-12 achieved significant antitumor effects in a hamster model, and transgene expression was detectable after each administration, in contrast with the rapid neutralization of free OAV-12.
PMCID: PMC3523252  PMID: 22985305
2.  The immunological profile of tumor-bearing animals determines the outcome of cancer immunotherapy 
Oncoimmunology  2013;2(6):e24499.
Do cancer patients responding to immunotherapy have immunological profiles that influence the therapeutic outcome, or do they develop efficient antitumor responses only upon immunotherapy? We came across this “chicken or the egg” dilemma when treating secondary liver tumors with Semliki Forest viruses expressing interleukin-12. In our system, the “egg,” that is, the pre-treatment immunological profile, seemed to make the difference. The properties of an effective antitumor response were also defined.
PMCID: PMC3716744  PMID: 23894709
IL-12; IL-15Rα; alphavirus; cancer immunotherapy; liver secondary tumor
3.  Liver Gene Transfer of Interkeukin-15 Constructs That Become Part of Circulating High Density Lipoproteins for Immunotherapy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52370.
Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo A-I) is a major component of high density lipoproteins (HDL) that transport cholesterol in circulation. We have constructed an expression plasmid encoding a chimeric molecule encompassing interleukin-15 (IL-15) and Apo A-I (pApo-hIL15) that was tested by hydrodynamic injections into mice and was co-administered with a plasmid encoding the sushi domain of IL-15Rα (pSushi) in order to enhance IL-15 trans-presentation and thereby bioactivity. The pharmacokinetics of the Apo A-I chimeric protein were much longer than non-stabilized IL-15 and its bioactivity was enhanced in combination with IL-15Rα Sushi. Importantly, the APO-IL-15 fusion protein was incorporated in part into circulating HDL. Liver gene transfer of these constructs increased NK and memory-phenotype CD8 lymphocyte numbers in peripheral blood, spleen and liver as a result of proliferation documented by CFSE dilution and BrdU incorporation. Moreover, the gene transfer procedure partly rescued the NK and memory T-cell deficiency observed in IL-15Rα−/− mice. pApo-hIL15+ pSushi gene transfer to the liver showed a modest therapeutic activity against subcutaneously transplanted MC38 colon carcinoma tumors, that was more evident when tumors were set up as liver metastases. The improved pharmacokinetic profile and the strong biological activity of APO-IL-15 fusion protein holds promise for further development in combination with other immunotherapies.
PMCID: PMC3528770  PMID: 23285013
4.  Dendritic Cells Take up and Present Antigens from Viable and Apoptotic Polymorphonuclear Leukocytes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29300.
Dendritic cells (DC) are endowed with the ability to cross-present antigens from other cell types to cognate T cells. DC are poised to meet polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) as a result of being co-attracted by interleukin-8 (IL-8), for instance as produced by tumor cells or infected tissue. Human monocyte-derived and mouse bone marrow-derived DC can readily internalize viable or UV-irradiated PMNs. Such internalization was abrogated at 4°C and partly inhibited by anti-CD18 mAb. In mice, DC which had internalized PMNs containing electroporated ovalbumin (OVA) protein, were able to cross-present the antigen to CD8 (OT-1) and CD4 (OT-2) TCR-transgenic T cells. Moreover, in humans, tumor cell debris is internalized by PMNs and the tumor-cell material can be subsequently taken up from the immunomagnetically re-isolated PMNs by DC. Importantly, if human neutrophils had endocytosed bacteria, they were able to trigger the maturation program of the DC. Moreover, when mouse PMNs with E. coli in their interior are co-injected in the foot pad with DC, many DC loaded with fluorescent material from the PMNs reach draining lymph nodes. Using CT26 (H-2d) mouse tumor cells, it was observed that if tumor cells are intracellularly loaded with OVA protein and UV-irradiated, they become phagocytic prey of H-2d PMNs. If such PMNs, that cannot present antigens to OT-1 T cells, are immunomagnetically re-isolated and phagocytosed by H-2b DC, such DC productively cross-present OVA antigen determinants to OT-1 T cells. Cross-presentation to adoptively transferred OT-1 lymphocytes at draining lymph nodes also take place when OVA-loaded PMNs (H-2d) are coinjected in the footpad of mice with autologous DC (H-2b). In summary, our results indicate that antigens phagocytosed by short-lived PMNs can be in turn internalized and productively cross-presented by DC.
PMCID: PMC3243708  PMID: 22206007
5.  Therapeutic anti-tumor efficacy of anti-CD137 agonistic monoclonal antibody in mouse models of myeloma 
Eradication of post-treatment residual myeloma cells is needed to prevent relapses and immunostimulatory monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) such as anti-CD137, CTLA-4, CD40, etc, that enhance the immune response against malignancies represent a means of achieving this purpose. This study explores anti-CD137 mAbs for mutiple myeloma (MM) treatment in preclinical models of the disease because they safely augment tumor immunity and are in clinical trials for other cancers.
Experimental design:
The anti-tumor effect of anti-CD137 mAb on mouse plasmacytomas derived from HOPC and NS0 cell lines was studied and compared with that of anti-CTLA-4, anti-CD40 and anti-ICAM-2 mAbs. The anti-tumor effect of anti-CD137 mAb was also examined in a mouse syngeneic disseminated myeloma (5TGM1) model, which more closely resembles human MM. Depletions of specific cell populations and gene-targeted mice were used to unravel the requirements for tumor rejection.
Agonistic mAb against CD137 and blocking anti-CTLA-4 mAb showed activity against intra-peritoneal HOPC tumors, resulting in extended survival of mice that also became immune to re-challenge. Anti-CD137 mAbs induced complete eradications of established subcutaneous NS0-derived tumors that were dependent on IFN-γ, NK cells and CD8+ T lymphocytes. NK cells accumulated in tumor draining lymph nodes (TDLNs) and showed increased IFN-γ production. Anti-tumor efficacy of anti-CD137 mAb was preserved in CD28-deficient mice, despite the fact that CD28 signaling increases the expression of CD137 on CD8+ T cells. Importantly, anti-CD137 mAb treatment significantly decreased systemic tumor burden in the disseminated 5TGM1 model.
Anti-CD137 mAb's immune-mediated anti-tumor activity in mouse models holds promise for myeloma treatment in humans.
PMCID: PMC2583963  PMID: 18980984
CD137 (4-1BB); myeloma; NK cells; immunotherapy; Interferon-γ
6.  High Frequency of CD4+ T Cells Specific for the TB10.4 Protein Correlates with Protection against Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(6):3396-3407.
TB10.4 is a newly identified antigen of Mycobacterium tuberculosis recognized by human and murine T cells upon mycobacterial infection. Here, we show that immunization with Mycobacterium bovis BCG induces a strong, genetically controlled, Th1 immune response against TB10.4 in mice. BALB/c and C57BL/6 strains behave as high and low responders to TB10.4 protein, respectively. The TB10.4:74-88 peptide was identified as an immunodominant CD4+ T-cell epitope for H-2d mice. Since recent results, as well as the present study, have raised interest in TB10.4 as a subunit vaccine, we analyzed immune responses induced by this antigen delivered by a new vector, the adenylate cyclase (CyaA) of Bordetella pertussis. CyaA is able to target dendritic cells and to deliver CD4+ or CD8+ T-cell epitopes to the major histocompatibility complex class II/I molecule presentation pathways, triggering specific Th1 or cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses. Several CyaA harboring either the entire TB10.4 protein or various subfragments containing the TB10.4:20-28 CTL epitope were shown to induce TB10.4-specific Th1 CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses. However, none of the recombinant CyaA, injected in the absence of adjuvant, was able to induce protection against M. tuberculosis infection. In contrast, TB10.4 protein administered with a cocktail of strong adjuvants that triggered a strong Th1 CD4+ T-cell response induced significant protection against M. tuberculosis challenge. These results confirm the potential value of the TB10.4 protein as a candidate vaccine and show that the presence of high frequencies of CD4+ T cells specific to this strong immunogen correlates with protection against M. tuberculosis infection.
PMCID: PMC1479244  PMID: 16714570
7.  Caspase-dependent immunogenicity of doxorubicin-induced tumor cell death 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2005;202(12):1691-1701.
Systemic anticancer chemotherapy is immunosuppressive and mostly induces nonimmunogenic tumor cell death. Here, we show that even in the absence of any adjuvant, tumor cells dying in response to anthracyclins can elicit an effective antitumor immune response that suppresses the growth of inoculated tumors or leads to the regression of established neoplasia. Although both antracyclins and mitomycin C induced apoptosis with caspase activation, only anthracyclin-induced immunogenic cell death was immunogenic. Caspase inhibition by Z-VAD-fmk or transfection with the baculovirus inhibitor p35 did not inhibit doxorubicin (DX)-induced cell death, yet suppressed the immunogenicity of dying tumor cells in several rodent models of neoplasia. Depletion of dendritic cells (DCs) or CD8+T cells abolished the immune response against DX-treated apoptotic tumor cells in vivo. Caspase inhibition suppressed the capacity of DX-killed cells to be phagocytosed by DCs, yet had no effect on their capacity to elicit DC maturation. Freshly excised tumors became immunogenic upon DX treatment in vitro, and intratumoral inoculation of DX could trigger the regression of established tumors in immunocompetent mice. These results delineate a procedure for the generation of cancer vaccines and the stimulation of anti-neoplastic immune responses in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2212968  PMID: 16365148

Results 1-7 (7)