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Cancer Res. 2008 Sep 15;68(18):7530-40. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-1635.

Systemic targeting of CpG-ODN to the tumor microenvironment with anti-neu-CpG hybrid molecule and T regulatory cell depletion induces memory responses in BALB-neuT tolerant mice.

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Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Scottsdale, Arizona 85259, USA.


We have shown that neu transgenic mice are immunotolerant and that immunizations with dendritic cells (DC) pulsed with neu-derived antigens were not able to control tumor growth in these animals. We tested whether, by modulating the tumor microenvironment with Toll-like receptor ligands, it could be possible to induce the activation of antitumor responses in neu mice. Our results indicate that only intratumoral (i.t.) injections of CpG-ODN induce an antitumor response in neu mice. To target the CpG-ODN to the tumor site anywhere within the body, we chemically conjugated an anti-Her-2/neu monoclonal antibody (mAb) with CpG-ODN. The anti-neu-CpG hybrid molecule retained its ability to bind to Her-2/neu(+) tumors, activate DCs, and induce antitumor responses. Our results indicated that injections of anti-neu-CpG induced the rejection of primary tumors in 100% of BALB/c mice and only in approximately 30% of BALB-neuT mice. After challenging the BALB/c and BALB-neuT mice, we observed that BALB/c mice developed a protective memory response; in contrast, BALB-neuT mice succumbed to the challenge. After injections of anti-neu-CpG, T regulatory cells (T-reg) were drastically reduced at the tumor site, but a large number were still present in the lymphoid organs. When BALB-neuT mice were treated with anti-neu-CpG plus anti-GITR mAb, but not with anti-CD25 mAb, 100% of the BALB-neuT mice rejected the primary tumor and developed a protective memory response indicating the critical role of T-regs in regulating the repertoire against self antigens. Taken together, these results indicate that CpG-ODN-targeted therapy and depletion of T-regs optimally activate a primary response and generate a protective memory response against self-tumor antigens.

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