Theranostics 2016; 6(5):627-637. doi:10.7150/thno.14792

Research Paper

Enhanced Anti-Tumor Efficacy through a Combination of Integrin αvβ6-Targeted Photodynamic Therapy and Immune Checkpoint Inhibition

Liquan Gao1, Chenran Zhang1, Duo Gao1, Hao Liu1, Xinhe Yu1, Jianhao Lai1, Fan Wang1, Jian Lin2, Zhaofei Liu1✉

1. Medical Isotopes Research Center and Department of Radiation Medicine, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing 100191, China;
2. Synthetic and Functional Biomolecules Center, College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.


“Training” the host immune system to recognize and systemically eliminate residual tumor lesions and micrometastases is a promising strategy for cancer therapy. In this study, we investigated whether integrin αvβ6-targeted photodynamic therapy (PDT) of tumors using a phthalocyanine dye-labeled probe (termed DSAB-HK) could trigger the host immune response, and whether PDT in combination with anti-PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibition could be used for the effective therapy of primary tumors and metastases. By near-infrared fluorescence imaging, DSAB-HK was demonstrated to specifically target either subcutaneous tumors in a 4T1 mouse breast cancer model or firefly luciferase stably transfected 4T1 (4T1-fLuc) lung metastatic tumors. Upon light irradiation, PDT by DSAB-HK significantly inhibited the growth of subcutaneous 4T1 tumors, and in addition promoted the maturation of dendritic cells and their production of cytokines, which subsequently stimulated the tumor recruitment of CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Furthermore, DSAB-HK PDT of the first tumor followed by PD-1 blockade markedly suppressed the growth of a second subcutaneous tumor, and also slowed the growth of 4T1-fLuc lung metastasis as demonstrated by serial bioluminescence imaging. Together, our results demonstrated the synergistic effect of tumor-targeted PDT and immune checkpoint inhibition for improving anti-tumor immunity and suppressing tumor growth/metastasis.

Keywords: Molecular imaging, Photodynamic therapy, Checkpoint inhibition, Tumor metastasis, Combination therapy.

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How to cite this article:
Gao L, Zhang C, Gao D, Liu H, Yu X, Lai J, Wang F, Lin J, Liu Z. Enhanced Anti-Tumor Efficacy through a Combination of Integrin αvβ6-Targeted Photodynamic Therapy and Immune Checkpoint Inhibition. Theranostics 2016; 6(5):627-637. doi:10.7150/thno.14792. Available from