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Logo of jcinvestThe Journal of Clinical InvestigationCurrent IssueArchiveSubscriptionAbout the Journal
J Clin Invest. Jan 15, 1998; 101(2): 429–441.
PMCID: PMC508583

Importance of cyclophosphamide-induced bystander effect on T cells for a successful tumor eradication in response to adoptive immunotherapy in mice.


Cyclophosphamide (CTX) increases the antitumor effectiveness of adoptive immunotherapy in mice, and combined immunotherapy regimens are now used in some clinical trials. However, the mechanisms underlying the synergistic antitumor responses are still unclear. The purpose of this study was (a) to evaluate the antitumor response to CTX and adoptive immunotherapy in mice bearing four different syngeneic tumors (two responsive in vivo to CTX and two resistant); and (b) to define the mechanism(s) of the CTX-immunotherapy synergism. Tumor-bearing DBA/2 mice were treated with a single injection of CTX followed by an intravenous infusion of tumor-immune spleen cells. In all the four tumor models, a single CTX injection resulted in an impressive antitumor response to the subsequent injection of spleen cells from mice immunized with homologous tumor cells independently of the in vivo response to CTX alone. Detailed analysis of the antitumor mechanisms in mice transplanted with metastatic Friend leukemia cells revealed that (a) the effectiveness of this combined therapy was dependent neither on the CTX-induced reduction of tumor burden nor on CTX-induced inhibition of some putative tumor-induced suppressor cells; (b) the CTX/immune cells' regimen strongly protected the mice from subsequent injection of FLC, provided the animals were also preinoculated with inactivated homologous tumor together with the immune spleen cells; (c) CD4(+) T immune lymphocytes were the major cell type responsible for the antitumor activity; (d) the combined therapy was ineffective in mice treated with antiasialo-GM1 or anti-IFN-alpha/beta antibodies; (e) spleen and/ or bone marrow cells from CTX-treated mice produced soluble factors that assisted in proliferation of the spleen cells. Altogether, these results indicate that CTX acts via bystander effects, possibly through production of T cell growth factors occurring during the rebound events after drug administration, which may sustain the proliferation, survival, and activity of the transferred immune T lymphocytes. Thus, our findings indicate the need for reappraisal of the mechanisms underlying the synergistic effects of CTX and adoptive immunotherapy, and may provide new insights into the definition of new and more effective strategies with chemotherapy and adoptive immunotherapy for cancer patients.

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