Significant antitumor effects obtained by autologous tumor cell vaccine engineered to secrete interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-18 by means of the EBV/lipoplex

Hidetsugu Asada, Tsunao Kishida, Hideyo Hirai, Etsuko Satoh, Suzuyo Ohashi, Minoru Takeuchi, Toshikazu Kubo, Masakazu Kita, Yoichiro Iwakura, Jiro Imanishi, Osam Mazda
Molecular Therapy 2002, 5 (5 Pt 1): 609-16
The EBV/lipoplex is a nonviral gene delivery system composed of a cationic lipid and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-based plasmid vector that carries the EBV oriP and EBV nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA1) gene. Because the EBNA1 supports retention, nuclear localization, and transcriptional upregulation of the oriP-bearing plasmid, cells transfected with the EBV/lipoplex express the transgene at a very high level. We hypothesized that tumor cells genetically manipulated with the EBV/lipoplex may be used as a tumor vaccine without drug selection, strongly contributing to immunotherapy of patients with malignancies. The cytokines interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-18 exert a variety of immune-regulatory functions including interferon (IFN)-gamma production and cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) and natural killer (NK) activation. Here, we investigated the possible therapeutic effects of an autologous tumor cell vaccine in the B16 melanoma model. The vaccine was engineered to secrete IL-12 and IL-18 by means of the EBV/lipoplex. B16 cells were subcutaneously implanted into syngenic mice followed by repetitive immunization with irradiated B16 cells that had been transfected 3 days earlier by TFL2-3, a novel cationic lipid, with EBV-plasmid vectors encoding IL-12 and/or IL-18 genes (B16/mIL-12, B16/mIL-18, and B16/mIL-12+mIL-18). The mice vaccinated with B16/mIL-12 underwent strong tumor suppression accompanied by a high IFN-gamma production. Both CTL and NK activities were significantly elevated in these mice. When the tumor cell vaccine was prepared by means of conventional (non-EBV) plasmid vectors combined with the same cationic lipid, the therapeutic outcome was not as good, suggesting the superiority of the EBV-based plasmid in engineering these types of tumor vaccines. Vaccination with B16/mIL-18 was not effective in suppressing tumors, whereas B16/mIL-12+mIL-18 showed comparable antitumor therapeutic validity as B16/mIL-12 did. When IFN-gamma mutant (IFN-gamma(-/-) mice were treated, B16/mIL-12 vaccine did not show any therapeutic activity, suggesting the necessity of IFN-gamma in the anti-melanoma immune responses. In contrast, the antitumor effect was not affected by NK depletion in mice that received repetitive injections with anti-asialo GM1 antibody. Furthermore, vaccination with B16/mIL-12 significantly suppressed pulmonary metastases in mice that had been intravenously injected with parental B16. Our results suggest that the EBV/lipoplex is quite useful in generating an autologous tumor cell vaccine and that IL-12 is an important component of the vaccine.


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