Active immunotherapy with transiently transfected cytokine-secreting tumor cells inhibits breast cancer metastases in tumor-bearing animals
Background. Metastatic disease remains the most frequent cause of treatment failure in the management of patients with breast cancer. A novel method that allows delivery of a gene into primary tumor cells was used to generate tumor cell vaccines to inhibit metastasis formation in tumor-bearing hosts. Methods. Inoculation of 2.5 x 104 4T1 murine breast cancer cells into the footpads of BALB/c mice reliably leads to tumor gnowth and pulmonary metastases. Interleukin-2 (IL-2)-secreting 4T1 cells (4T1-pMP6A/IL-2) and control transduced 4T1 cells (4T1-pMP6A) were generated by lipofection with a cationic liposome complexed to an adeno-associated viral plasmid bearing the IL-2 gene (pMP6A/IL-2). Unmodified 4T1 cells were inoculated into the footpads on day 0, and weekly immunization with phosphate-buffered saline solution or 2 x 106 irradiated 4T1, 4T1-pMP6A, or 4T1-pMP6A/IL-2 cells commenced on day 21. Hindlimb amputation was performed when tumors measured 6 mm in diameter. Mice were killed 24 days after amputation, and metastatic disease was determined by weighing lungs at time of harvest. Results. A significant reduction was seen in the pulmonary metastatic load of mice receiving IL-2 gene-modified tumor cell immunization (4T1-pMP6A/IL-2) when compared with mice given control immunizations. Conclusions. These results suggest that active immunization strategies with cytokine gene-modified tumor cells generated by clinically relevant gene delivery systems may prove useful in inhibiting the development of metastases from primary breast cancer.