Background Diffuse Midline Gliomas (DMG) are aggressive pediatric brain tumors that arise in the brainstem of children between 5–10 years old. DMGs are the leading cause of pediatric death caused by a brain tumor, with a median survival of only 9 months.1 2 We have previously shown that the administration of the oncolytic adenovirus Delta-24-RGD is safe and lead to an increase in long-term survivors in murine models.3 4 In order to further increase the antitumor effect of Delta-24-RGD by boosting the immune response, we have constructed a new adenovirus, Delta-24-ACT, which incorporates the 4-1BBL (CD137L) into its backbone. 4-1BB is a costimulatory receptor that promotes the survival and expansion of activated T cells and NK cells and the generation and maintenance of memory CD8+ T cells, among other functions.5 6
Methods Murine and human DMG cell lines were used. 4-1BBL expression was assessed in infected cells by flow cytometry and immunofluorescence. Viral protein expression was measured by western blot, viral replication was analyzed using a method based on hexon detection and the oncolytic effect by MTS assay. For in vivo experiments, cells were injected in the pons of mice using a screw-guided system.7 A single administration of the adenovirus was injected intratumorally using the same procedure. The tumor immune populations were analyzed by flow cytometry.
Results We first confirmed by flow cytometry that DMG cells infected with Delta-24-ACT expressed 4-1BBL in their membrane in a dose-dependent manner. Afterwards, we analyzed the oncolytic effect of Delta-24-ACT in vitro. Delta-24-ACT was able to express viral early and late proteins in murine and human DMG cell lines and to replicate efficiently in human cells. In addition, the virus caused cell death in a dose-dependent manner. In vivo, Delta-24-ACT administration demonstrated to be safe and to produce a significant survival benefit in murine DMG models, obtaining 30–50% of long-term survivors depending on the model. More importantly, Delta-24-ACT generated immune memory, as long-term survivors were disease-free after cell rechallenge. On the other hand, we analyzed immune infiltration 7 or 10 days after the viral administration into the tumor and observed a significant increase of tumor infiltration in treated mice, which showed an activated state.
Conclusions Delta-24-ACT administration into DMG murine tumor models significantly increases the recruitment and activation of immune cells, which leads to long term survivors and immunological memory.
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