Immunomodulation of intracranial melanoma in response to blood-tumor barrier opening with focused ultrasound

Theranostics. 2020 Jul 11;10(19):8821-8833. doi: 10.7150/thno.47983. eCollection 2020.


Background: Focused ultrasound (FUS) activation of microbubbles (MBs) for blood-brain (BBB) and blood-tumor barrier (BTB) opening permits targeted therapeutic delivery. While the effects of FUS+MBs mediated BBB opening have been investigated for normal brain tissue, no such studies exist for intracranial tumors. As this technology advances into clinical immunotherapy trials, it will be crucial to understand how FUS+MBs modulates the tumor immune microenvironment. Methods and Results: Bulk RNA sequencing revealed that FUS+MBs BTB/BBB opening (1 MHz, 0.5 MPa peak-negative pressure) of intracranial B16F1cOVA tumors increases the expression of genes related to proinflammatory cytokine and chemokine signaling, pattern recognition receptor signaling, and antigen processing and presentation. Flow cytometry revealed increased maturation (i.e. CD86) of dendritic cells (DCs) in the meninges and altered antigen loading of DCs in both the tumor and meninges. For DCs in tumor draining lymph nodes, FUS+MBs had no effect on maturation and elicited only a trend towards increased presentation of tumor-derived peptide by MHC. Neither tumor endothelial cell adhesion molecule expression nor homing of activated T cells was affected by FUS+MBs. Conclusion: FUS+MBs-mediated BTB/BBB opening elicits signatures of inflammation; however, the response is mild, transient, and unlikely to elicit a systemic response independent of administration of immune adjuvants.

Keywords: RNA sequencing; blood-tumor barrier; focused ultrasound; immune cells; inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms / immunology
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Male
  • Melanoma, Experimental / genetics
  • Melanoma, Experimental / immunology
  • Melanoma, Experimental / therapy*
  • Mice
  • Microbubbles
  • Ovalbumin / immunology*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Tumor Microenvironment
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / methods*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Ovalbumin