Combination Therapy: Chemotherapy with vaccine:Chemotherapy with platinum doublets, including cisplatin plus vinorelbine, is standard of care for non-small-cell lung cancer. Sublethal exposure to certain chemotherapeutic agents has been demonstrated to alter the phenotype or biology of human tumor cells, rendering them more susceptible to cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-mediated lysis. The effects of cisplatin/vinorelbine on tumor sensitivity to T-cell cytotoxicity and its molecular mechanisms, however, have not been fully elucidated. We examined the effect of this chemotherapy on growth, cell-surface phenotype, and CTL-mediated lysis of five distinct human lung carcinoma cell lines in vitro and examined the molecular mechanisms associated with enhanced CTL sensitivity. These studies demonstrate that sublethal exposure of human lung tumor cells to the platinum doublet modulates tumor cell phenotype and increases sensitivity to major histocompatibility complex-restricted perforin/granzyme-mediated CTL killing. These studies also demonstrate that exposure to chemotherapy markedly decreased the protein secretion ratio of transforming growth factor-beta/interleukin (IL)-8. We examined the gene expression profile of two lung tumor cell lines to identify a shared gene signature in response to sublethal cisplatin/vinorelbine and found coordinate expression of only 16 transcripts, including those for cytokine/chemokine expression and apoptosis such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, IL8, CXCL5, and B cell lymphoma-2-like genes (BCL-2). Overall, these results suggest that sublethal exposure to cisplatin/vinorelbine increases sensitivity to perforin/granzyme-mediated CTL killing by modulation of (a) tumor phenotype, (b) cytokine/chemokine milieu, and (c) the proapoptotic/antiapoptotic gene ratio. The data presented here propose a complex mechanism that is distinct from and complementary to that of immunogenic cell death. This molecular signature may be useful in predicting responses to immunotherapy as well as provide the rationale for the potential clinical benefit of the combined use of vaccine with cisplatin/vinorelbine regimens.Combination Therapy: Small-Molecule Inhibitors with vaccine:Small molecule BCL-2 inhibitors are being examined as monotherapy in phase I/II clinical trials for several types of tumors. However, few data are available about the effect of BCL-2 inhibitors on immune function.
The aims of this study were to investigate the effect of a small molecule BCL-2 inhibitor on immune function and determine the most effective way of combining this inhibitor with a recombinant vaccine to treat tumors. The in vitro effect of the pan-BCL-2 inhibitor GX15-070 was assessed in mouse CD8 T lymphocytes at 2 different stages of activation as well as regulatory T lymphocytes (Treg). The in vivo effect of GX15-070 after recombinant vaccinia/fowlpox CEA-TRICOM vaccination was analyzed in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, and in splenocytes of mice bearing pulmonary tumors. The therapeutic efficacy of such sequential therapy was measured as a reduction of pulmonary tumor nodules. Activated mature CD8 T lymphocytes were more resistant to GX15-070 as compared to early-activated cells. Treg function was significantly decreased after treatment with the BCL-2 inhibitor. In vivo, GX15-070 was given after vaccination so as to not negatively impact the induction of vaccine-mediated immunity, resulting in increased intratumoral activated CD8:Treg ratio, and significant reduction of pulmonary tumor nodules. This study is the first to show the effect of a small molecule BCL-2 inhibitor on the immune system and following a vaccine. It is also the first to demonstrate the efficacy of this sequence in reducing tumors in mouse models, providing a rationale for the design of combinational clinical studies.In a different set of studies, we investigated the a small-molecule inhibitor for tyrosine kinase;sunitinib. This study investigated the immunomodulatory effects of sunitinib in order to rationally design combinational platforms with immunotherapies for the treatment of solid tumors. Using a mouse model, we studied the effects of sunitinib given for 4 weeks at concentrations comparable to 37.5-50 mg/day in humans, followed by 2 weeks off the drug (sunitinib 4/2). We assessed the effect of differently timed combinations of sunitinib and a poxvirus-based vaccine encoding carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) plus 3 costimulatory molecules on immune responses in CEA-transgenic (CEA-Tg) mice. Antitumor studies were performed in CEA-Tg mice bearing CEA-transfected MC38 murine colon carcinomas (MC38-CEA), treated either concurrently or sequentially with sunitinib and vaccine. In vitro, sunitinib inhibited PDGFR phosphorylation on MC38-CEA cells at concentrations similar to those biologically available during human treatment. In vivo, one cycle of sunitinib 4/2 caused bimodal immune effects: (a) decreased regulatory cells during the 4 weeks of treatment and (b) an immune-suppression rebound during the 2 weeks of treatment interruption. In a model using CEA-Tg mice bearing CEA+ tumors, continuous sunitinib followed by vaccine increased intratumoral infiltration of antigen-specific T lymphocytes, decreased immunosuppressant T regulatory cells and myeloid-derived suppressor cells, reduced tumor volumes, and increased survival. The immunomodulatory activity of continuous sunitinib administration can create a more immune-permissive environment. In combination with immunotherapies, sunitinib treatment should precede vaccine, in order to precondition the immune system, to maximize the response to vaccine-mediated immune enhancement.
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