Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers and a major cause of cancer mortality worldwide. At late stage of the disease CRC often shows (multiple) metastatic lesions in the peritoneal cavity which cannot be efficiently targeted by systemic chemotherapy. This is one major factor contributing to poor prognosis. Oxaliplatin is one of the most commonly used systemic treatment options for advanced CRC. However, drug resistance - often due to insufficient drug delivery - is still hampering successful treatment. The anticancer activity of oxaliplatin includes besides DNA damage also a strong immunogenic component. Consequently, the aim of this study was to investigate the effect of bacterial ghosts (BGs) as adjuvant immunostimulant on oxaliplatin efficacy. BGs are empty envelopes of gram-negative bacteria with a distinct immune-stimulatory potential. Indeed, we were able to show that the combination of BGs with oxaliplatin treatment had strong synergistic anticancer activity against the CT26 allograft, resulting in prolonged survival and even a complete remission in this murine model of CRC carcinomatosis. This synergistic effect was based on an enhanced induction of immunogenic cell death and activation of an efficient T-cell response leading to long-term anti-tumor memory effects. Taken together, co-application of BGs strengthens the immunogenic component of the oxaliplatin anticancer response and thus represents a promising natural immune-adjuvant to chemotherapy in advanced CRC.
Keywords: adjuvant immunotherapy; bacterial ghosts; colon cancer; immunogenic cell death; oxaliplatin; peritoneal carcinomatosis.