New and innovative treatment strategies for cancer patients in the fields of immunotherapy and radiotherapy are rapidly developing in parallel. Among the most promising preclinical treatment approaches is combining immunotherapy with radiotherapy where early data suggest synergistic effects in several tumor model systems. These studies demonstrate that radiation combined with immunotherapy can result in superior efficacy for local tumor control. More alluring is the emergence of data suggesting an equally profound systemic response also known as “abscopal” effects with the combination of radiation and certain immunotherapies. Studies addressing optimal radiation dose, fractionation, and modality to be used in combination with immunotherapy still require further exploration. However, recent anecdotal clinical reports combining stereotactic or hypofractionated radiation regimens with immunotherapy have resulted in dramatic sustained clinical responses, both local and abscopal. Technologic advances in clinical radiation therapy has made it possible to deliver hypofractionated regimens anywhere in the body using stereotactic radiation techniques, facilitating further clinical investigations. Thus, stereotactic radiation in combination with immunotherapy agents represents an exciting and potentially fruitful new space for improving cancer therapeutic responses.
In trauma patients intubated in a physician-led pre-hospital trauma service we prospectively examined the rate of misplaced tracheal tubes, the presence and nature of gross airway contamination, and the value of ‘quick look’ airway assessment to identify patients with subsequent difficult laryngoscopy.
Patients requiring pre-hospital intubation in a 16 month period were included. Intubation success rate, misplaced tracheal tube rate, Cormack and Lehane grade, and the presence and nature of gross airway contamination were recorded at laryngoscopy. Tube placement was verified with carbon dioxide detection and chest x-ray. After visual assessment physicians stated whether laryngoscopy was expected to be a straightforward or ‘difficult’. The assessment was compared to subsequent laryngoscopy grade.
400 patients had attempted intubation and 399 were successfully intubated. 42 were in cardiac arrest and intubated without drugs. There were no oesophageal or misplaced tracheal tubes. Gross airway contamination was reported in 177 of 400 patients (44%), of which ¾ was from the upper airway. Unconscious patients had higher contamination rates (57%) than conscious patients (34%) (p ≤ 0.0001). As a test of difficult intubation, the ‘quick look’ generated sensitivity 0.597 and specificity 0.763 (PPV and NPV were 0.336 and 0.904 respectively).
This study suggests that when physicians perform pre-hospital anaesthesia they have high intubation success rates and the use of ETCO2 monitoring reduces or eliminates undetected misplaced tracheal tubes. We found high rates of airway contamination; mostly blood from the upper airway. The ‘quick look’ airway assessment had some utility but is unreliable in isolation.
Tracheal intubation; Airway; Pre-hospital; Anaesthesia
The FDA recently approved an anti-CTLA-4 antibody (Iplimumab) for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. This decision was based on Phase III results, which demonstrate that blocking this immune checkpoint provides a survival advantage in patients with advanced disease. As a single agent, ipilimumab is also being clinically evaluated in advanced (metastatic, castrate-resistant) prostate cancer and two randomized, placebo-controlled Phase III studies have recently completed accrual.
We used a well-described genetically engineered mouse (GEM), autochronous prostate cancer model (Pro-TRAMP) to explore the relative sequencing and dosing of anti-CTLA-4 antibody when combined with a cell-based, GM-CSF-secreting vaccine (GVAX).
Our results show that combined treatment results in a dramatic increase in effector CD8 T cells in the prostate gland, and enhanced tumor-antigen directed lytic function. These effects are maximized when CTLA-4 blockade is applied after, but not before, vaccination. Additional experiments, using models of metastatic disease, show that incorporation of low-dose cyclophosphamide into this combined treatment regimen results in an additional pre-clinical benefit.
Together these studies define a combination regimen using anti-CTLA-4/GVAX immunotherapy and low-dose chemotherapy for potential translation to a clinical trial setting.
Prostate cancer; Immunotherapy; Treg; Lymphocyte; CTLA-4
The subcellular locations of synapses on pyramidal neurons strongly influences dendritic integration and synaptic plasticity. Despite this, there is little quantitative data on spatial distributions of specific types of synaptic input. Here we use array tomography (AT), a high-resolution optical microscopy method, to examine thalamocortical (TC) input onto layer 5 pyramidal neurons. We first verified the ability of AT to identify synapses using parallel electron microscopic analysis of TC synapses in layer 4. We then use large-scale array tomography (LSAT) to measure TC synapse distribution on L5 pyramidal neurons in a 1.00 × 0.83 × 0.21 mm3 volume of mouse somatosensory cortex. We found that TC synapses primarily target basal dendrites in layer 5, but also make a considerable input to proximal apical dendrites in L4, consistent with previous work. Our analysis further suggests that TC inputs are biased toward certain branches and, within branches, synapses show significant clustering with an excess of TC synapse nearest neighbors within 5–15 μm compared to a random distribution. Thus, we show that AT is a sensitive and quantitative method to map specific types of synaptic input on the dendrites of entire neurons. We anticipate that this technique will be of wide utility for mapping functionally-relevant anatomical connectivity in neural circuits.
array tomography; electron microscopy; thalamocortical synapse; dendritic integration; synapse distribution; barrel cortex; neural circuits
Tumors express a wide variety of both mutated and nonmutated Ags. Whether these tumor Ags are broadly recognized as self or foreign by the immune system is currently unclear. Using an autochthonous prostate cancer model in which hemagglutinin (HA) is specifically expressed in the tumor (ProHA × TRAMP mice), as well as an analogous model wherein HA is expressed in normal tissues as a model self-Ag (C3HAhigh), we examined the transcriptional profile of CD4 T cells undergoing Ag-specific division. Consistent with our previous data, transfer of Ag-specific CD4 T cells into C3HAhigh resulted in a functionally inactivated CD4 T cell profile. Conversely, adoptive transfer of an identical CD4 T cell population into ProHA × TRAMP mice resulted in the induction of a regulatory phenotype of the T cell (Treg) both at the transcriptional and functional level. Interestingly, this Treg skewing was a property of even early-stage tumors, suggesting Treg induction as an important tolerance mechanism during tumor development.
IL-17-secreting CD8 T cells (Tc17) have been described in several settings, but little is known regarding their functional characteristics. While Tc1 cells produced IFN-γ and efficiently killed targets, Tc17 cells lacked lytic function in vitro. Interestingly, the small numbers of IFN-γ-positive or IL-17/IFN-γ-double-positive cells generated under Tc17 conditions also lacked lytic activity and expressed a similar pattern of cell surface proteins to IL-17-producing cells. As is the case for Th17 (CD4) cells, STAT3 is important for Tc17 polarization, both in vitro and in vivo. Adoptive transfer of highly purified, Ag-specific IL-17-secreting Tc17 cells into Ag-bearing hosts resulted in near complete conversion to an IFN-γ-secreting phenotype and substantial pulmonary pathology, demonstrating functional plasticity. Tc17 also accumulated to a greater extent than did Tc1 cells, suggesting that adoptive transfer of CD8 T cells cultured in Tc17 conditions may have therapeutic potential for diseases in which IFN-γ-producing cells are desired.
Relative up-regulation of the Ikaros family transcription factor Helios in natural regulatory T cells (Tregs) has been reported by several groups. However, a role for Helios in regulatory T cells has not yet been described. Here, we show that Helios is upregulated in CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells. Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP) experiments indicated that Helios binds to the FoxP3 promoter. These data were further corroborated by experiments showing that knocking-down Helios with siRNA oligonucleotides results in down-regulation of FoxP3. Functionally, we found that suppression of Helios message in CD4+CD25+ T cells significantly attenuates their suppressive function. Taken together, these data suggest that Helios may play an important role in regulatory T cell function and support the concept that Helios may be a novel target to manipulate Treg activity in a clinical setting.
Regulatory T cells; Helios; FoxP3
DNA barcodes are increasingly used to provide an estimate of biodiversity for small, cryptic organisms like nematodes. Nucleotide sequences generated by the barcoding process are often grouped, based on similarity, into molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTUs). In order to get a better understanding of the taxonomic resolution of a 3' 592-bp 18S rDNA barcode, we have analyzed 100 MOTUs generated from 214 specimens in the nematode suborder Criconematina. Previous research has demonstrated that the primer set for this barcode reliably amplifies all nematodes in the Phylum Nematoda. Included among the Criconematina specimens were 25 morphologically described species representing 12 genera. Using the most stringent definition of MOTU membership, where a single nucleotide difference is sufficient for the creation of a new MOTU, it was found that an MOTU can represent a subgroup of a species (e.g. Discocriconemella limitanea), a single species (Bakernema inaequale), or a species complex (MOTU 76). A maximum likelihood phylogenetic analysis of the MOTU dataset generated four major clades that were further analyzed by character-based barcode analysis. Fourteen of the 25 morphologically identified species had at least one putative diagnostic nucleotide identified by this character-based approach. These diagnostic nucleotides could be useful in biodiversity assessments when ambiguous results are encountered in database searches that use a distance-based metric for nucleotide sequence comparisons. Information and images regarding specimens examined during this study are available online.
Criconematidae; DNA taxonomy; phylogeny; barcode analysis; plant parasitic nematodes; nematode diversity
Discocriconemella inarata, a plant parasitic nematode species originally discovered in a virgin tallgrass prairie in northwest Iowa, was re-examined by molecular and morphological analyses of topotype material. This species has never been recorded in cultivated fields and could potentially serve as an indicator for high quality prairie habitats. DNA sequence from a conserved 3’ portion of the 18S ribosomal gene exhibited an identical match between D. inarata topotype specimens and topotype specimens of Mesocriconema xenoplax from Fresno, California. Higher resolution sequence analyses using the internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) and a portion of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome b (cytb) allowed discrimination of D. inarata apart from M. xenoplax. This pair of species formed a well-supported clade with other Mesocriconema species exclusive of tropical Discocriconemella species. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed the absence of submedian lobes on D. inarata, suggesting a secondary loss of this defining morphological characteristic for Mesocriconema. Observations and measurements of D. inarata juveniles were added for the first time. Surveys of other prairies within the Great Plains expanded the known distribution of this species.
Criconematidae Discocriconemella inarata; DNA taxonomy; endemic nematode; environmental indicator; native habitats; plant parasitic nematodes; ring nematodes; tallgrass prairie
Interactions between tumor and immune cells either enhance or inhibit cancer progression. We show here that Stat3 signaling within the tumor microenvironment induces a pro-carcinogenic cytokine, IL-23, while inhibiting a central anti-carcinogenic cytokine, IL-12, thereby shifting the balance of tumor immunity towards carcinogenesis. Stat3 induces expression of IL-23, which is mainly produced by tumor-associated macrophages, via direct transcriptional activation of the IL-23/p19 gene. Furthermore, Stat3 inhibits NF-κB/c-Rel-dependent IL-12/p35 gene expression in tumor-associated dendritic cells. Tumor-associated regulatory T cells (Treg) express IL-23 receptor (IL-23R) which activates Stat3 in this cell type, leading to upregulation of the Treg-specific transcription factor, Foxp3, and the immunosuppressive cytokine, IL-10. These results demonstrate that Stat3 promotes IL-23-mediated pro-carcinogenic immune responses while inhibiting IL-12-dependent anti-tumor immunity.
Recent studies suggest that two related cytokines, IL- 23 and IL- 12, play opposite roles in carcinogenesis. However, the underlying mechanisms regulating the balance between these cytokines in the tumor microenvironment have not been elucidated. Mechanisms by which IL-23 promotes tumor immune evasion also remain to be explored. Our results reveal that Stat3 signaling in the tumor microenvironment regulates the IL-12/IL-23 balance and further, that IL- 23 enhances the immunosuppressive activity of regulatory T cells within the tumor microenvironment, in part via IL-23 receptor dependent Stat3 activation. Because Stat3 is a point of convergence for signaling pathways commonly activated in cancer, our data reveal a mechanism by which oncogenic pathways regulate the immune microenvironment to promote tumor development.
Cancer immunotherapy refers to an array of strategies intended to treat progressive tumors by augmenting a patient’s anti-tumor immune response. As immunotherapy is eventually incorporated into oncology treatment paradigms, it is important to understand how these therapies interact with established cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or Radiotherapy (RT). To address this, we utilized a well-established, autochthonous murine model of prostate cancer to test whether RT could augment (or diminish) the CD4 T cell response to a tumor vaccine.
Transgenic mice that develop spontaneous prostate cancer (TRAMP) which also express a unique tumor associated antigen (Influenza hemagglutinin) under the control of a prostate-specific promoter were given local RT in combination with immunotherapy. The immunological outcome of this combinatorial strategy was assayed by monitoring the effector response of adoptively transferred, prostate-specific CD4 T cells.
Neither RT nor immunotherapy alone was capable of priming an anti-tumor immune response in animals with evolving tumors. The combination of immunotherapy with RT resulted in anti-tumor T cell activation – this effect was profoundly dependent on the relative timing of RT and immunotherapy. Anti-tumor immune responses occurred when immunotherapy was administered 3-5 weeks post-RT, but such responses were undetectable when immunotherapy was administered either earlier (peri-radiothrerapy) or later.
The therapeutic temporal window of immunotherapy post-RT suggests that highly aggressive, immuno-suppressive tumors might be most sensitive to immunotherapy in a fairly narrow time window; these results should help to guide future development of clinical combinatorial strategies.
Radiation; Immunotherapy; TRAMP; T Cell; vaccine
Lymphocyte activation gene-3 (LAG-3) is a cell-surface molecule with diverse biologic effects on T cell function. We recently showed that LAG-3 signaling is important in CD4+ regulatory T cell suppression of autoimmune responses. Here, we demonstrate that LAG-3 maintains tolerance to self and tumor antigens via direct effects on CD8+ T cells using 2 murine systems. Naive CD8+ T cells express low levels of LAG-3, and expression increases upon antigen stimulation. Our data show increased levels of LAG-3 protein on antigen-specific CD8+ T cells within antigen-expressing organs or tumors. In vivo antibody blockade of LAG-3 or genetic ablation of the Lag-3 gene resulted in increased accumulation and effector function of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells within organs and tumors that express their cognate antigen. Most notably, combining LAG-3 blockade with specific antitumor vaccination resulted in a significant increase in activated CD8+ T cells in the tumor and disruption of the tumor parenchyma. A major component of this effect was CD4 independent and required LAG-3 expression by CD8+ T cells. Taken together, these data demonstrate a direct role for LAG-3 on CD8+ T cells and suggest that LAG-3 blockade may be a potential cancer treatment.
The sequence of about 70 nucleotides at the 5′ end of the RNAs of nine different aphthoviruses (foot-and-mouth disease viruses), including representatives of the seven serotypes of the virus, has been determined by partial enzyme digestion of 32P-end-labeled S fragment—that part of the RNA lying to the 5′ side of the poly(C) tract and including the 5′ end of the molecule. The S fragments were prepared from polyadenylated virus-specific RNA extracted from infected cells by digestion with RNase H in the presence of oligo(dG)12-18. The first 27 nucleotides from the 5′ end were highly conserved in all the RNAs. This region was followed by a more variable region of about 15 nucleotides, showing some length and sequence heterogeneity and including potential but probably nonutilized initiation codons. In agreement with previous homology studies, the sequencing results showed that the European serotypes A, O, and C form a group distinct from the SAT serotypes and that the Asia 1 serotype is closely related to the European group. The lengths of the S fragments of two different RNAs were confirmed as containing 360 to 400 nucleotides by gel electrophoresis with reference to nucleotide markers of known size.