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Engel, Natasja K. van den; Rüttinger, Dominik; Rusan, Margareta; Kammerer, Robert; Zimmermann, Wolfgang; Hatz, Rudolf A.; Winter, Hauke (2011): Combination immunotherapy and active-specific tumor cell vaccination augments anti-cancer immunity in a mouse model of gastric cancer. In: Journal of Translational Medicine 9:140


Background: Active-specific immunotherapy used as an adjuvant therapeutic strategy is rather unexplored for cancers with poorly characterized tumor antigens like gastric cancer. The aim of this study was to augment a therapeutic immune response to a low immunogenic tumor cell line derived from a spontaneous gastric tumor of a CEA424-SV40 large T antigen (CEA424-SV40 TAg) transgenic mouse. Methods: Mice were treated with a lymphodepleting dose of cyclophosphamide prior to reconstitution with syngeneic spleen cells and vaccination with a whole tumor cell vaccine combined with GM-CSF (a treatment strategy abbreviated as LRAST). Anti-tumor activity to subcutaneous tumor challenge was examined in a prophylactic as well as a therapeutic setting and compared to corresponding controls. Results: LRAST enhances tumor-specific T cell responses and efficiently inhibits growth of subsequent transplanted tumor cells. In addition, LRAST tended to slow down growth of established tumors. The improved anti-tumor immune response was accompanied by a transient decrease in the frequency and absolute number of CD4(+)CD25 (+)FoxP3(+) T cells (Tregs). Conclusions: Our data support the concept that whole tumor cell vaccination in a lymphodepleted and reconstituted host in combination with GM-CSF induces therapeutic tumor-specific T cells. However, the long-term efficacy of the treatment may be dampened by the recurrence of Tregs. Strategies to counteract suppressive immune mechanisms are required to further evaluate this therapeutic vaccination protocol.