Vaccination with irradiated tumor cells pulsed with an adjuvant that stimulates NKT cells is an effective treatment for glioma

Martin K. Hunn, Kathryn J. Farrand, Kate W.R. Broadley, Robert Weinkove, Peter Ferguson, Rose J. Miller, Cameron S. Field, Troels Petersen, Melanie J. McConnell, Ian F. Hermans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The prognosis for patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) remains extremely poor despite recent treatment advances. There is an urgent need to develop novel therapies for this disease. Experimental Design: We used the implantable GL261 murine glioma model to investigate the therapeutic potential of a vaccine consisting of intravenous injection of irradiated whole tumor cells pulsed with the immuno-adjuvant α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer). Results: Vaccine treatment alone was highly effective in a prophylactic setting. In a more stringent therapeutic setting, administration of one dose of vaccine combined with depletion of regulatory T cells (Treg) resulted in 43% long-term survival and the disappearance of mass lesions detected by MRI. Mechanistically, the α-GalCer component was shown to act by stimulating "invariant" natural killer-like T cells (iNKT cells) in a CD1d-restricted manner, which in turn supported the development of a CD4 + T-cell-mediated adaptive immune response. Pulsing α-GalCer onto tumor cells avoided the profound iNKT cell anergy induced by free α-GalCer. To investigate the potential for clinical application of this vaccine, the number and function of iNKT cells was assessed in patients with GBM and shown to be similar to age-matched healthy volunteers. Furthermore, irradiated GBM tumor cells pulsed with α-GalCer were able to stimulate iNKT cells and augment a T-cell response in vitro. Conclusions: Injection of irradiated tumor cells loaded with α-GalCer is a simple procedure that could provide effective immunotherapy for patients with high-grade glioma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6446-6459
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

Cite this