Huis in ‘t Veld et al. treated mice with local photodynamic therapy (PDT) and intratumoral injection of PLGA-PEG nanoparticles (NPs) containing the adjuvants poly(I:C) and R848 and the chemokine MIP3α. PDT effectively killed cancer cells in vitro, increasing activation of cocultured DCs. The combination treatment (PDT + NPs) extended survival of mice bearing MC38, CT26, or TC-1 tumors, and controlled growth of distant, untreated tumors, dependent on CD8+ T cells. PDT + NP therapy boosted frequencies of tumor-specific (to MC38 neoepitopes and TC-1 E7) CD8+ T cells, and trended to increase neutrophils and inflammatory myeloid cells in tumors.
Contributed by Alex Najibi
ABSTRACT: Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has shown encouraging but limited clinical efficacy when used as a standalone treatment against solid tumors. Conversely, a limitation for immunotherapeutic efficacy is related to the immunosuppressive state observed in large, advanced tumors. In the present study, we employ a strategy, in which we use a combination of PDT and immunostimulatory nanoparticles (NPs), consisting of poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid (PLGA)-polyethylene glycol (PEG) particles, loaded with the Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) agonist poly(I:C), the TLR7/8 agonist R848, the lymphocyte-attracting chemokine, and macrophage inflammatory protein 3_ (MIP3_). The combination provoked strong anti-tumor responses, including an abscopal effects, in three clinically relevant murine models of cancer: MC38 (colorectal), CT26 (colorectal), and TC-1 (human papillomavirus 16-induced). We show that the local and distal anti-tumor effects depended on the presence of CD8(+) T cells. The combination elicited tumor-specific oncoviral- or neoepitope-directed CD8(+) T cells immune responses against the respective tumors, providing evidence that PDT can be used as an in situ vaccination strategy against cancer (neo)epitopes. Finally, we show that the treatment alters the tumor microenvironment in tumor-bearing mice, from cold (immunosuppressed) to hot (pro-inflammatory), based on greater neutrophil infiltration and higher levels of inflammatory myeloid and CD8(+) T cells, compared to untreated mice. Together, our results provide a rationale for combining PDT with immunostimulatory NPs for the treatment of solid tumors.