Microsphere priming facilitates induction of potent therapeutic T-cell immune responses against autochthonous liver cancers

Eur J Immunol. 2014 Apr;44(4):1213-24. doi: 10.1002/eji.201343794. Epub 2014 Jan 16.


Immunotherapy of solid tumors is often hampered by the low frequency of tumor-specific T cells elicited by current vaccination strategies. Here, we describe a prime-boost vaccination protocol based on the administration of antigen conjugated to poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) microspheres followed by booster vaccination with Listeria monocytogenes vectors, which rapidly generates potent immune responses within two weeks. Compared with conventional vaccination with antigen-pulsed dendritic cells, the use of PLGA microspheres resulted in immune responses of significantly higher magnitude, which could be further enhanced via coinjection of TLR 3 agonists. In an immunocompetent model of subcutaneous hepatocellular carcinoma, PLGA/Listeria vaccination resulted in complete remission of established tumors and prolonged survival. To further test the efficacy of the novel vaccination for the treatment of solid tumors, we developed an orthotopic liver cancer model based on the injection of transposon-flanked plasmids expressing oncogenes and model antigens. In this transgenic mouse model of liver cancer, PLGA/Listeria vaccination resulted in eradication of liver tumors, long-term survival of animals and establishment of stable cancer-specific memory CD8(+) T-cell populations. Therefore, combined PLGA/Listeria vaccination holds promise as a novel immunotherapeutic option for the treatment of solid cancers and as a means to boost the therapeutic efficacy of established cancer vaccines.

Keywords: Immunotherapy; Liver cancer; Microspheres; Vaccination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Immunization, Secondary
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Lactic Acid / immunology*
  • Listeria monocytogenes / immunology
  • Listeriosis / immunology
  • Listeriosis / microbiology
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / immunology*
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / therapy
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microspheres*
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Poly I-C / immunology
  • Poly I-C / pharmacology
  • Polyglycolic Acid
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Survival Analysis
  • Toll-Like Receptor 3 / agonists
  • Toll-Like Receptor 3 / immunology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vaccination / methods


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Cytokines
  • Toll-Like Receptor 3
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Polyglycolic Acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • Ovalbumin
  • Poly I-C