Immunomodulatory gene therapy with interleukin 12 and 4-1BB ligand: Long-term remission of liver metastases in a mouse model

Olivier Martinet, Vanadyia Ermekova, Jian Q. Qiao, Bernhard Sauter, John Mandeli, Lieping Chen, Shu Hsia Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Background: The success of immunomodulatory cancer therapy is frequently hampered by the transient nature of the antitumor immune response. We have shown previously in a mouse model that interleukin 12 (IL-12) generates a strong natural killer (NK) cell-mediated antitumor response and reduces liver metastases induced by a colon carcinoma cell line. However, only a small percentage of the treated animals developed the cytotoxic T-lymphocytic response required for a long-term systemic antitumor immunity. 4-1BB is a co- stimulatory molecule expressed on the surface of activated T cells. Interaction of 4-1BB with its natural ligand (4-1BBL) has been shown to amplify T-cell (especially CD8+)-mediated immunity. In this study, we investigated the effects of adenovirus-mediated gene therapy delivering both IL-12 and 4-1BBL genes on mice with hepatic metastases induced by colon cancer cells. Methods: Syngeneic BALB/c mice received intrahepatic injection of poorly immunogenic MCA26 colon cancer cells. Various combinations of replication-defective adenoviruses expressing IL-12 and 4-1BBL genes were injected into the established liver tumors. Changes in tumor size and animal survival were then monitored. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: The long-term survival rate of mice treated with the combination of IL-12 and 4-1BBL was significantly improved over that of animals in the control group (P = .0001). In vivo depletion of NK cells or CD8+ T cells completely abolished the long-term survival advantage of the IL-12 plus 4-1BBL-treated animals (P<.002). Moreover, the systemic immunity induced by this combination treatment protected these animals against a subcutaneous challenge with parental MCA26 cells. Conclusion: Adenovirus-mediated transfer of IL-12 and 4-1BBL genes directly into liver tumors resulted in tumor regression that required both NK and CD8+ T cells and generated a potent, long-lasting antitumor immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)931-936
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 7 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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