Purpose: Patients with central nervous system (CNS) tumors are typically treated with radiotherapy, but this is not curative and results in the upregulation of phosphorylated STAT3 (p-STAT3), which drives invasion, angiogenesis, and immune suppression. Therefore, we investigated the combined effect of an inhibitor of STAT3 and whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) in a murine model of glioma. Experimental Design: C57BL/6 mice underwent intracerebral implantation of GL261 glioma cells, WBRT, and treatment with WP1066, a blood–brain barrier–penetrant inhibitor of the STAT3 pathway, or the two in combination. The role of the immune system was evaluated using tumor rechallenge strategies, immune-incompetent backgrounds, immunofluorescence, immune phenotyping of tumor-infiltrating immune cells (via flow cytometry), and NanoString gene expression analysis of 770 immune-related genes from immune cells, including those directly isolated from the tumor microenvironment. Results: The combination of WP1066 and WBRT resulted in long-term survivors and enhanced median survival time relative to monotherapy in the GL261 glioma model (combination vs. control P < 0.0001). Immunologic memory appeared to be induced, because mice were protected during subsequent tumor rechallenge. The therapeutic effect of the combination was completely lost in immune-incompetent animals. NanoString analysis and immuno-fluorescence revealed immunologic reprograming in the CNS tumor microenvironment specifically affecting dendritic cell antigen presentation and T-cell effector functions. Conclusions: This study indicates that the combination of STAT3 inhibition and WBRT enhances the therapeutic effect against gliomas in the CNS by inducing dendritic cell and T-cell interactions in the CNS tumor.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research