High mobility group box I (HMGB1) release from tumor cells after treatment: Implications for development of targeted chemoimmunotherapy

Xiang Da Dong, Norimasa Ito, Michael T. Lotze, Richard A. DeMarco, Petar Popovic, Stuart H. Shand, Simon Watkins, Stephen Winikoff, Charles K. Brown, David L. Bartlett, Herbert J. Zeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


We have recently demonstrated that cytolysis of human melanoma cells by immune effectors (both NK and T cells) is associated with release of the nuclear chromatin protein, high mobility group box I (HMGB1). Extracellular HMGB1 mediates a number of important functions including endothelial cell activation, stromagenesis, recruitment and activation of innate immune cells, and also dendritic cell maturation that, in the setting of cancer, lead to a chronic inflammatory response. This reparative inflammatory response promotes tumor cell survival, expansion, and metastases. Release of HMGB1 after chemotherapy-induced cytotoxicity has not been well characterized. We measured the release of HMGB1 after chemotherapy or immune cytolysis and demonstrated that this did not correlate with conventional markers of apoptosis and necrosis in several human colorectal, pancreatic, and melanoma tumor cell lines. Rather, we observed that tumor cells incubated with the platinating agent oxaliplatin, retained HMGB1 within the nucleus for significantly longer periods than other agents used at comparable cytotoxic concentrations or even with potent cytolytic cells. Thus, release of HMGB1 from dying tumor cells treated with chemotherapy or cells with lymphokine activated killer cell activity is not dependent solely on the mode of cell death. Sequestration of the damage associated molecular pattern molecule, HMGB1, may play a role in the clinical efficacy of platinating agents and suggests this as a superior agent for coupling with immunotherapeutic strategies, possibly enhancing their effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)596-606
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunotherapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell death
  • HMGB1
  • Necrosis
  • Oxaliplatin
  • Tumor immunology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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