Theranostics 2021; 11(2):540-554. doi:10.7150/thno.49517 This issue
1. Department of Physiological Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.
2. Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.
Background: Advanced stage cancers with a suppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) are often refractory to immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapy. Recent studies have shown that focused ultrasound (FUS) TME-modulation can synergize ICI therapy, but enhancing survival outcomes in poorly immunogenic tumors remains challenging. Here, we investigated the role of focused ultrasound based boiling histotripsy (HT) and in-situ anti-CD40 agonist antibody (αCD40) combinatorial therapy in enhancing therapeutic efficacy against ICI refractory murine melanoma.
Methods: Unilateral and bilateral large (~330-400 mm3) poorly immunogenic B16F10 melanoma tumors were established in the flank regions of mice. Tumors were exposed to single local HT followed by an in-situ administration of αCD40 (HT+ αCD40: HT40). Inflammatory signatures post treatment were assessed using pan-cancer immune profiling and flow cytometry. The ability of HT40 ± ICI to enhance local and systemic effects was determined by immunological characterization of the harvested tissues, and by tumor growth delay of local and distant untreated tumors 4-6 weeks post treatment.
Results: Immune profiling revealed that HT40 upregulated a variety of inflammatory markers in the tumors. Immunologically, HT40 treated tumors showed an increased population of granzyme B+ expressing functional CD8+ T cells (~4-fold) as well as an increased M1 to M2 macrophage ratio (~2-3-fold) and CD8+ T: regulatory T cell ratio (~5-fold) compared to the untreated control. Systemically, the proliferation rates of the melanoma-specific memory T cell population were significantly enhanced by HT40 treatment. Finally, the combination of HT40 and ICI therapy (anti-CTLA-4 and anti-PD-L1) caused superior inhibition of distant untreated tumors, and prolonged survival rates compared to the control.
Conclusions: Data suggest that HT40 reprograms immunologically cold tumors and sensitizes them to ICI therapy. This approach may be clinically useful for treating advanced stage melanoma cancers.
Keywords: Boiling histotripsy, αCD40, Checkpoint blockade, Cold tumors, Anti-tumor immunity