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Int J Oncol. 2004 Apr;24(4):901-8.

Immunopharmacological and antitumor effects of second-generation immunomodulatory oligonucleotides containing synthetic CpR motifs.

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Hybridon, Inc., Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Bacterial and synthetic DNAs containing CpG dinucleotides in specific sequence contexts (CpG DNA) activate the vertebrate immune system and produce potent Th1 immune responses. Recently, we reported immunomodulatory oligonucleotides (IMOs) containing 3'-3'-attached novel structures (immunomers) and synthetic immunostimulatory CpR (R=2'-deoxy-7-deazguanosine) dinucleotides show potent stimulatory activity with distinct cytokine secretion profiles. In the present study, we evaluated in vivo immunopharmacological and antitumor properties of second-generation immunomodulatory oligonucleotides (IMOs) either alone or in combination with chemotherapeutic agents. Repeated peritumoral administration of IMOs at 1 mg/kg to mice bearing established subcutaneous CT26 colon tumor or B16.F0 melanoma resulted in complete regression or strong inhibition of tumor growth. Direct peritoneal injection of IMOs at 2.5 mg/kg to mice bearing peritoneally implanted ascites CT26 or B16.F0 tumors completely eradicated or inhibited tumor growth. Treatment of mice bearing beta-gal expressing CT26.CL25 tumor with IMOs resulted in a significant tumor-specific CTL responses compared with treatment with a control non-CpG DNA or PBS. These responses correlated with IFN-gamma, but not IL-4 secreted in IMO, treated mice. A 5-fold increase in beta-gal specific IgG2a antibodies was found in mice, significantly increasing the IgG2a/IgG1 ratio. IMOs showed similar antitumor activity in both wt and IL-6 knockout (ko) C57BL/6 mice but failed to elicit activity in IL-12 ko C57BL/6 mice. Tumor-free mice from the IMO treatment group rejected the same tumor cell rechallenge, suggesting an adaptive immune response against these cells. Moreover, naïve mice quickly developed specific antitumor response without IMO treatment following adoptive transfer of splenocytes obtained from tumor free mice from the IMO treated group. Additionally, the co-administration of IMOs with chemotherapeutic agents, docetaxel and doxorubicin, resulted in synergistic antitumor effects in both B16.F0 melanoma and 4T1 breast carcinoma models. These results demonstrate potent antitumor activity of second-generation IMO compounds containing a synthetic CpR stimulatory motif in a broad spectrum of tumor models through induction of strong Th1 immune responses. IMO treatment resulted in the development of tumor-specific memory immune responses. No treatment-related toxicity was observed in mice at the doses and treatment schedules studied.

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