Open Access Research article

Activation of the human immune system by chemotherapeutic or targeted agents combined with the oncolytic parvovirus H-1

Markus Moehler1*, Maike Sieben1, Susanne Roth1, Franziska Springsguth1, Barbara Leuchs2, Maja Zeidler1, Christiane Dinsart2, Jean Rommelaere3 and Peter R Galle1

Author Affiliations

1 First Department of Internal Medicine, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, 55131 Mainz, Germany

2 Infection and Cancer Program, Department F010, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum Heidelberg, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

3 Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale Unité 701, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum Heidelberg, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:464  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-464

Published: 26 October 2011

Abstract

Background

Parvovirus H-1 (H-1PV) infects and lyses human tumor cells including melanoma, hepatoma, gastric, colorectal, cervix and pancreatic cancers. We assessed whether the beneficial effects of chemotherapeutic agents or targeted agents could be combined with the oncolytic and immunostimmulatory properties of H-1PV.

Methods

Using human ex vivo models we evaluated the biological and immunological effects of H-1PV-induced tumor cell lysis alone or in combination with chemotherapeutic or targeted agents in human melanoma cells +/- characterized human cytotoxic T-cells (CTL) and HLA-A2-restricted dendritic cells (DC).

Results

H-1PV-infected MZ7-Mel cells showed a clear reduction in cell viability of >50%, which appeared to occur primarily through apoptosis. This correlated with viral NS1 expression levels and was enhanced by combination with chemotherapeutic agents or sunitinib. Tumor cell preparations were phagocytosed by DC whose maturation was measured according to the treatment administered. Immature DC incubated with H-1PV-induced MZ7-Mel lysates significantly increased DC maturation compared with non-infected or necrotic MZ7-Mel cells. Tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6 release was clearly increased by DC incubated with H-1PV-induced SK29-Mel tumor cell lysates (TCL) and was also high with DC-CTL co-cultures incubated with H-1PV-induced TCL. Similarly, DC co-cultures with TCL incubated with H-1PV combined with cytotoxic agents or sunitinib enhanced DC maturation to a greater extent than cytotoxic agents or sunitinib alone. Again, these combinations increased pro-inflammatory responses in DC-CTL co-cultures compared with chemotherapy or sunitinib alone.

Conclusions

In our human models, chemotherapeutic or targeted agents did not only interfere with the pronounced immunomodulatory properties of H-1PV, but also reinforced drug-induced tumor cell killing. H-1PV combined with cisplatin, vincristine or sunitinib induced effective immunostimulation via a pronounced DC maturation, better cytokine release and cytotoxic T-cell activation compared with agents alone. Thus, the clinical assessment of H-1PV oncolytic tumor therapy not only alone but also in combination strategies is warranted.