Object: An approach toward the treatment of intracranial gliomas was developed in a rat experimental model. The authors investigated the ability of "professional" antigen-presenting cells (dendritic cells) to enhance host antitumor immune responses when injected as a vaccine into tumor-bearing animals.
Methods: Dendritic cells, the most potent antigen-presenting cells in the body, were isolated from rat bone marrow precursors stimulated in vitro with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and interleukin-4. Cultured cell populations were confirmed to be functional antigen-presenting cells on the basis of expressed major histocompatibility molecules, as analyzed by fluorescence-activated cell sorter cytofluorography. These dendritic cells were then pulsed (cocultured) ex vivo with acid-eluted tumor antigens from 9L glioma cells. Thirty-eight adult female Fischer 344 rats harboring 7-day-old intracranial 9L tumors were treated with three weekly subcutaneous injections of either control media (10 animals), unpulsed dendritic cells (six animals), dendritic cells pulsed with peptides extracted from normal rat astrocytes (10 animals), or 9L tumor antigen-pulsed dendritic cells (12 animals). The animals were followed for survival. At necropsy, the rat brains were removed and examined histologically, and spleens were harvested for cell-mediated cytotoxicity assays. The results indicate that tumor peptide-pulsed dendritic cell therapy led to prolonged survival in rats with established intracranial 9L tumors implanted 7 days prior to the initiation of vaccine therapy in vivo. Immunohistochemical analyses were used to document a significantly increased perilesional and intratumoral infiltration of CD8+ and CD4+ T cells in the groups treated with tumor antigen-pulsed dendritic cells compared with the control groups. In addition, the results of in vitro cytotoxicity assays suggest that vaccination with these peptide-pulsed dendritic cells can induce specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes against 9L tumor cells.
Conclusions: Based on these results, dendritic antigen-presenting cells pulsed with acid-eluted peptides derived from autologous tumors represent a promising approach to the immunotherapy of established intracranial gliomas. which may serve as a basis for designing clinical trials in patients with brain tumors.