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Apoptosis. 1997;2(4):403-12.

Apoptosis induced by sodium butyrate treatment increases immunogenicity of a rat colon tumor cell line.

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INSERM U419, Institut de Biologie, 44035 Nantes, France.


We have recently demonstrated that a treatment combining the cell differentiating agent sodium butyrate (NaBut) and interleukin-2 (IL2) resulted in a remission of established peritoneal colorectal carcinomatosis in rats. NaBut or IL2 treatment alone, never cured these tumour-bearing rats. In the present investigation, we report that NaBut-treatments induce apoptosis in the colonic cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo. We postulated that the significant therapeutic effect of NaBut/IL2 treatment can be mainly attributed to a NaBut-induced apoptosis of the tumoural cells increasing their immunogenicity. Indeed, treatment which combined apoptotic bodies (apobodies) as cell vaccine, plus IL2 immunotherapy significantly increased tumour remission and survival rate of the vaccinated rats, whereas IL2 treatment alone did not. We observed that the cured rats presented long-term protection against subsequent challenge with the parental tumour cells. This latter result suggests that these treatments generate an immune protection. This was confirmed by the presence, in the sera of the cured rats, of anti-tumoural antibodies directed against both the apobodies and the tumour cells, but not against normal colonocytes. In addition, we show that injections of apobodies before administration of the parental tumour cells results in a partial protection. We provide the first evidence that apobodies, derived from cancer cells after NaBut-treatment, induce a specific immune response against parental tumours cells. These data suggest that the distinctive immunologic properties of apobodies could provide a valuable tool in colorectal cancer immunotherapy.


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