, Volume 62, Issue 6, pp 1061-1071

Preexisting antitumor immunity augments the antitumor effects of chemotherapy

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Efficacy of cancer chemotherapy is generally believed to be the result of direct drug killing of tumor cells. However, increased tumor cell killing does not always lead to improved efficacy. Herein, we demonstrate that the status of antitumor immunity at the time of chemotherapy treatment is a critical factor affecting the therapeutic outcome in that tumor-bearing mice that possess preexisting antitumor immunity respond to chemotherapy much better than those that do not. Enhancing antitumor immunity before or at the time of chemotherapy-induced antigen release increases subsequent response to chemotherapy significantly. By in vitro and in vivo measurements of antitumor immunity, we found a close correlation between the intensity of antitumor immunity activated by chemotherapy and the efficacy of treatment. Immune intervention with interleukin-12 during the early phase of chemotherapy-induced immune activation greatly amplifies the antitumor response, often resulting in complete tumor eradication not only at the chemo-treated local site, but also systemically. These findings provide additional evidence for an immune-mediated antitumor response to chemotherapy. Further, our results show that timely immune modification of chemotherapy-activated antitumor immunity can result in enhanced antitumor-immune response and complete tumor eradication.