Enhanced antitumor effect of combining chemotherapy with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes in mice with EBV-related non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Mol Clin Oncol. 2015 Nov;3(6):1233-1238. doi: 10.3892/mco.2015.646. Epub 2015 Sep 16.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-related non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) represents a major problem in hematological clinical studies due to its drug tolerance and refractoriness. EBV infection is a key factor driving the process of tumor growth. Immune therapy is an important biotherapeutic method of treating cancer, which is attracting increasing attention. We hypothesized that combining conventional chemotherapy with immune therapy in the treatment of EBV-related NHL may achieve better outcomes. First, we successfully cloned large numbers of EBV-specific T cells by immune stimulation ex vivo. Subsequently, the combined therapy was applied in a murine model of human EBV-related NHL. As expected, combined therapy inhibited tumor growth more effectively compared with monotherapy. In addition, we continuously tested the tumor-associated immune microenvironment and observed that the numbers of tumor-infiltrating cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and macrophages were elevated following combined therapy. These effects suggest that EBV-specific CTLs may indirectly promote an innate immune reaction in lymphoma by activating tumor-infiltrating macrophage proliferation. Our findings may provide a guide for the prospective treatment of EBV-related NHL.

Keywords: Epstein-Barr virus; chemotherapy; cytotoxic T cell; immunotherapy; lymphoma.