Cure of mammary carcinomas in Her-2 transgenic mice through sequential stimulation of innate (neoadjuvant interleukin-12) and adaptive (DNA vaccine electroporation) immunity

Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Mar 1;11(5):1941-52. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-04-1873.


Purpose: Whereas neoadjuvant therapy is emerging as a treatment option in early primary breast cancer, no data are available on the use of antiangiogenic and immunomodulatory agents in a neoadjuvant setting. In a model of Her-2 spontaneous mammary cancer, we investigated the efficacy of neoadjuvant interleukin 12 (IL-12) followed by "immune-surgery" of the residual tumor.

Experimental design: Female BALB/c mice transgenic for the rat Her-2 oncogene inexorably develop invasive carcinomas in all their mammary glands by the 23rd week of age. Mice with multifocal in situ carcinomas received four weekly i.p. injections of 100 ng IL-12 followed by a 3-week rest. This course was given four times. A few mice additionally received DNA plasmids encoding portions of the Her-2 receptor electroporated through transcutaneous electric pulses.

Results: The protection elicited by IL-12 in combination with two DNA vaccine electroporations kept 63% of mice tumor-free. Complete protection of all 1-year-old mice was achieved when IL-12-treated mice received four vaccine electroporations. Pathologic findings, in vitro tests, and the results from immunization of both IFN-gamma and immunoglobulin gene knockout transgenic mice and of adoptive transfer experiments all show that IL-12 augments the B- and T-cell response elicited by vaccination and slightly decreases the number of regulatory T cells. In addition, IL-12 strongly inhibits tumor angiogenesis.

Conclusions: In Her-2 transgenic mice, IL-12 impairs tumor progression and triggers innate immunity so markedly that DNA vaccination becomes effective at late points in time when it is ineffective on its own.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines*
  • Carcinoma / genetics*
  • Carcinoma / immunology*
  • Electroporation*
  • Female
  • Genes, erbB-2*
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Interleukin-12 / pharmacology*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / genetics*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Plasmids / genetics


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Interleukin-12