Superior antitumor efficacy of IFN-α2b-incorporated photo-cross-linked hydrogels combined with T cell transfer and low-dose irradiation against gastric cancer

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Abstract

Introduction: The exhaustion and poor homing of activated lymphocytes are critical obstacles in adoptive cell immunotherapy for solid tumors. In order to effectively deliver immune cells into tumors, we encapsulated interferon-α2b (IFN-α2b) into macroporous hydrogels as an enhancement factor and utilized low-dose irradiation (LDI) as a tumoral attractor of T cells. Methods: Hydroxypropyl cellulose hydrogels were prepared by irradiation techniques, and the cross-sectional microstructure was characterized by scanning electron microscopy. The synergistic antitumor mechanism of combination of IFN-α2b and CIK cells was evaluated by detecting the expression of activation marker CD69 on CIK cell surface and IFN-γ production by CIK cells. The in vivo antitumor activity of IFN-α2b-incorporated hydroxypropyl cellulose hydrogels combined with CIK and radiation was evaluated in an MKN-45 xenografted nude mice model. Results: The bioactivity of IFN-α2b was well maintained in ultraviolet-reactive, rapidly cross-linkable hydroxypropyl cellulose hydrogels. In vitro studies demonstrated IFN-α2bactivated T cells, as evidenced by upregulating early activation marker CD69 and secretion inflammatory cytokine IFN-γ. In vivo real-time image showed our hydrogels kept a higher amount of drug delivery at the tumor site for a long time compared with free drug injection. Low-dose irradiation promoted T cell accumulation and infiltration in subcutaneous tumors. Combination of IFN-α2b-loaded hydrogels (Gel-IFN) with T cells and LDI exhibited higher efficacy to eradicate human gastric cancer xenograted tumors with less proliferating cells and more necrotic regions compared with IFN-α2b or T cells alone. Discussion: HPC hydrogels kept the activity of IFN-α2b and stably release of IFN-α2b to stimulate T cells for a long time. At the same time, low-dose radiation recruits T cells into tumors. This innovative integration mode of IFN-α2b-loaded hydrogels and radiotherapy offers a potent strategy to improve the therapeutic outcome of T cell therapy.

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Liu, Q., Zhang, D., Qian, H., Chu, Y., Yang, Y., Shao, J., … Liu, B. (2020). Superior antitumor efficacy of IFN-α2b-incorporated photo-cross-linked hydrogels combined with T cell transfer and low-dose irradiation against gastric cancer. International Journal of Nanomedicine, 15, 3669–3680. https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S249174

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