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Oncoimmunology. 2012 May 1;1(3):298-305.

Development of immune memory to glial brain tumors after tumor regression induced by immunotherapeutic Toll-like receptor 7/8 activation.

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Department of Neurosurgery; Arlon Hospital; Arlon, Belgium ; Epitopoietic Research Corporation (ERC); Namur, Belgium.


The efficacy of immunotherapeutic TLR7/8 activation by resiquimod (R848) was evaluated in vivo, in the CNS-1 rat glioma model syngeneic to Lewis rats. The immune treatment was compared with cytotoxic cyclophosphamide chemotherapy, and as well, was compared with the combination cytotoxic and immunotherapeutic treatments. We found that parenteral treatment with the TLR7/8 agonist, resiquimod, eventually induced complete tumor regression of CNS-1 glioblastoma tumors in Lewis rats. Cyclophosphamide (CY) treatment also resulted in dramatic CNS-1 remission, while the combined treatment showed similar antitumor effects. The resiquimod efficacy appeared not to be associated with direct injury to CNS-1 growth, while CY proved to exert tumoricidal cytotoxicity to the tumor cells. Rats that were cured by treatment with the innate immune response modifier resiquimod proved to be fully immune to secondary CNS-1 tumor rechallenge. They all remained tumor-free and survived. In contrast, rats that controlled CNS-1 tumor growth as a result of CY treatment did not develop immune memory, as demonstrated by their failure to reject a secondary CNS-1 tumor challenge; they showed a concomittant outgrowth of the primary tumor upon secondary tumor exposure. Rechallenge of rats that initially contained tumor growth by combination chemo-immunotherapy also failed to reject secondary tumor challenge, indicating that the cytotoxic effect of the CY likely extended to the endogenous memory immune cells as well as to the tumor. These data demonstrate strong therapeutic antitumor efficacy for the immune response modifier resiquimod leading to immunological memory, and suggest that CY treatment, although effective as chemotherapeutic agent, may be deleterious to maintenance of long-term antitumor immune memory. These data also highlight the importance of the sequence in which a multi-modal therapy is administered.

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