Background: Vaccination generating a robust memory population of CD8+ T cells may provide protection against cancer. However, immune therapies for cancer are influenced by the local tumour immune microenvironment. An infiltrate of T cells into tumours of people with colorectal cancer has proven to be a significant indicator of good prognosis.
Methods: We used an intracaecal mouse model of cancer to determine whether a protective immune response against a mucosal gut tumour could be generated using a systemic intervention. We investigated the generation of murine memory CD8+ T cells using a sustained antigen release vaccine vehicle (chitosan gel; Gel + OVA) containing the model antigen ovalbumin, chitosan gel alone (Gel) or conventional dendritic cell vaccination (DC + OVA) using the same protein antigen.
Results: Following vaccination with Gel + OVA, CD8+ T cell memory populations specific for ovalbumin protein were detected. Only vaccination with Gel + OVA gave decreased tumour burden compared to unvaccinated or DC + OVA-vaccinated mice in the intracaecal cancer challenge model.
Conclusion: These results indicate that subcutaneous vaccination with Gel + OVA generates a population of functional CD8+ memory T cells in lymphoid tissue able to protect against intracaecal tumour challenge. Vaccination with chitosan gel may be valuable in anti-cancer treatment at both peripheral and mucosal sites.
Keywords: Caecum; Colon cancer; IFN-γ; T cells; Tumour; Vaccination.