Background and aims: A gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)-based therapeutic vaccine candidate against hormone-sensitive prostate cancer has demonstrated its safety and signs of efficacy in phase I/II trials. In this study, we characterized the isotype/subclass profiles of the anti-GnRH humoral response generated by the vaccination and analyzed its association with patients' clinical outcomes.
Methods: The immunoglobulin isotypes and IgG subclasses of the antibody responses of 34 patients included in a randomized, open, prospective phase I/II clinical trial were characterized. Every patient included in the study had a diagnosis of locally advanced prostate adenocarcinoma at stages 3 and 4 and received immunization with the vaccine candidate. Additionally, serum testosterone and prostate specific antigen (PSA) concentrations, serving as indicators of tumor response, were determined. The type of anti-GnRH antibody response was correlated to the time elapsed until the first biochemical recurrence in patients and the outcome of the disease.
Results: All patients developed strong and prolonged anti-GnRH antibody responses, resulting in a short- to mid-term decrease in serum testosterone and PSA levels. Following immunizations, anti-GnRH antibodies of the IgM/IgG and IgG1/IgG3 subclasses were observed. Following radiotherapy, the humoral response switched to IgG (IgG1/IgG4). Patients who experienced a short-term biochemical relapse were characterized by significantly higher levels of anti-GnRH IgG titers, particularly IgG1 and IgG4 subclasses. These characteristics, along with a high response of specific IgM antibodies at the end of immunizations and the development of anti-GnRH IgA antibody responses following radiotherapy, were observed in patients whose disease progressed, compared to those with controlled disease.
Conclusion: The nature of the humoral response against anti-GnRH, induced by vaccination may play a key role in activating additional immunological mechanisms. Collectively, these mechanisms could contribute significantly to the regulation of tumor growth.
Keywords: GnRH-based vaccine; anti-GnRH response; castration-sensitive prostate cancer; immunoglobulin isotypes; therapeutic vaccine.