Indexed on: 05 Sep '15Published on: 05 Sep '15Published in: Cancer Gene Therapy
We have investigated if immunotherapy against human papilloma virus (HPV) using a viral gene delivery platform to immunize against HPV 16 genes E6 and E7 (Ad5 [E1-, E2b-]-E6/E7) combined with programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-1) blockade could increase therapeutic effect as compared to the vaccine alone. Ad5 [E1-, E2b-]-E6/E7 as a single agent induced HPV-E6/E7 cell-mediated immunity. Immunotherapy using Ad5 [E1-, E2b-]-E6/E7 resulted in clearance of small tumors and an overall survival benefit in mice with larger established tumors. When immunotherapy was combined with immune checkpoint blockade, an increased level of anti-tumor activity against large tumors was observed. Analysis of the tumor microenvironment in Ad5 [E1-, E2b-]-E6/E7 treated mice revealed elevated CD8(+) tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs); however, we observed induction of suppressive mechanisms such as programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression on tumor cells and an increase in PD-1(+) TILs. When Ad5 [E1-, E2b-]-E6/E7 immunotherapy was combined with anti-PD-1 antibody, we observed CD8(+) TILs at the same level but a reduction in tumor PD-L1 expression on tumor cells and reduced PD-1(+) TILs providing a mechanism by which combination therapy favors a tumor clearance state and a rationale for pairing antigen-specific vaccines with checkpoint inhibitors in future clinical trials.