Background: Surgery and radiation are the mainstays of therapy for human gliomas that are the most common primary brain tumors. Most recently, cell culture and animal studies provided the first convincing evidence that radiation not only eliminates tumor cells, but also modulates the immune response and likely improves anti-tumor immunotherapy.
Methodology/principal findings: We present an in vivo study that analyzes the effects of radiation on the immune response in tumor patients. As readout system, we utilized the reactivity of glioma patients' sera against antigen GLEA2 as the most frequent antigen immunogenic in glioblastoma patients. We established an ELISA assay to analyze reactivity of 24 glioblastoma patients over a period of several months. As control we used 30 sera from healthy donors as well as 30 sera from lung cancer patients. We compared the course of GLEA2 seroreactivity at different times prior, during and after radiation. The GLEA2 seroreactivity was increased by the time of surgery, decreased after surgery, increased again under radiation, and slightly decreased after radiation.
Conclusions/significance: Our results provide in vivo evidence for an increased antibody response against tumor antigens under radiation. Antigens that become immunogenic with an increased antibody response as result of radiation can serve as ideal targets for immunotherapy of human tumors.