Surgical Inflammation Alters Immune Response to Intraoperative Photodynamic Therapy

Cancer Res Commun. 2023 Sep 11;3(9):1810-1822. doi: 10.1158/2767-9764.CRC-22-0494. eCollection 2023 Sep.


Surgical cytoreduction for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is used for selected patients as a part of multi-modality management strategy. Our group has previously described the clinical use of photodynamic therapy (PDT), a form of non-ionizing radiation, as an intraoperative therapy option for MPM. Although necessary for the removal of bulk disease, the effects of surgery on residual MPM burden are not understood. In this bedside-to-bench study, Photofrin-based PDT introduced the possibility of achieving a long-term response in murine models of MPM tumors that were surgically debulked by 60% to 90%. Thus, the addition of PDT provided curative potential after an incomplete resection. Despite this success, we postulated that surgical induction of inflammation may mitigate the comprehensive response of residual disease to further therapy. Utilizing a previously validated tumor incision (TI) model, we demonstrated that the introduction of surgical incisions had no effect on acute cytotoxicity by PDT. However, we found that surgically induced inflammation limited the generation of antitumor immunity by PDT. Compared with PDT alone, when TI preceded PDT of mouse tumors, splenocytes and/or CD8+ T cells from the treated mice transferred less antitumor immunity to recipient animals. These results demonstrate that addition of PDT to surgical cytoreduction significantly improves long-term response compared with cytoreduction alone, but at the same time, the inflammation induced by surgery may limit the antitumor immunity generated by PDT. These data inform future potential approaches aimed at blocking surgically induced immunosuppression that might improve the outcomes of intraoperative combined modality treatment.

Significance: Although mesothelioma is difficult to treat, we have shown that combining surgery with a form of radiation, photodynamic therapy, may help people with mesothelioma live longer. In this study, we demonstrate in mice that this regimen could be further improved by addressing the inflammation induced as a by-product of surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • Immunity
  • Inflammation
  • Mesothelioma* / drug therapy
  • Mesothelioma, Malignant*
  • Mice
  • Photochemotherapy*
  • Surgical Wound*