Development of anti-tumor immunity following thymidine kinase-mediated killing of experimental brain tumors
Using the 9L experimental brain tumor model, we studied long-term tumor regression and immunologic consequences of tumor killing in a model of in vivo gene transfer of the herpes simplex virus 1 thymidine kinase (HSV-TK) gene and ganciclovir (GCV) treatments. Fibroblasts modified to produce retroviral vectors carrying the HSV-TK gene were implanted into established 9L brain tumors in Fischer 344 rats to carry out gene transfer. Animals were then treated with parenteral GCV. Significant tumor regression was seen following GCV treatments in short-term experiments (17 days) as quantified by measurements of tumor volume. In long-term studies, 7 of 32 (22%) treated animals survived 90 days. Histologic examination of the brains of the successfully treated animals demonstrated residual tumor cells and inflammatory cells consisting predominantly of macrophages/microglia and T cells in the hemisphere with the residual tumor cyst. Rats surviving 90 days rejected repeat tumor injections into the contralateral brain and flank, whereas identical tumor injections in naive animals resulted in both brain and flank tumors. The presence of significant anti-tumor immunity following HSV-TK and GCV treatments suggests that the immune system plays a critical role in the sustained tumor regressions associated with these treatments. These findings show that while HSV-TK and GCV treatments can result in long-term tumor regressions in this model, the success of these treatments could be improved by better understanding the role played by the host's immune systems.