BACKGROUND: In 2001, it was postulated that tumour-derived exosomes could be a potent source of tumour-associated antigens (TAA). Since then, much knowledge is gained on their role in tumorigenesis but only very recently tumour-derived exosomes were used in dendritic cell (DC)-based immunotherapy. For this, DCs were cultured ex-vivo and loaded with exosomes derived from immunogenic tumours such as melanoma or glioma and re-administrated to induce anti-tumour responses in primary and metastatic tumour mouse models. In contrast, malignant mesothelioma (MM) is a non-immunogenic tumour and because only a few mesothelioma-specific TAA are known to date, we investigated whether mesothelioma-derived exosomes could be used as antigen source in DC-based immunotherapy.
METHODS: Mouse MM AB1 cells were used to generate tumour lysate and tumour-derived exosomes. Tumour lysate was generated by 5 cycles of freeze-thawing followed by sonication of AB1 cells. Tumour exosomes were collected from the AB1 cell culture supernatant and followed a stepwise ultracentrifugation. Protein quantification and electron microscopy were performed to determine the protein amount and to characterise their morphology. To test whether MM derived exosomes are immunogenic and able to stimulate an anti-tumoral response, BALB/c mice were injected with a lethal dose of AB1 tumour cells at day 0, followed by intraperitoneal injection of a single dose of DCs loaded with tumour exosomes, DCs loaded with tumour lysate, or phosphate buffered saline (PBS), at day 7.
RESULTS: Mice which received tumour exosome-loaded DC immunotherapy had an increased median and overall survival compared to mice which received tumour lysate-loaded DC or PBS.
CONCLUSION: In this study, we showed that DC immunotherapy loaded with tumour exosomes derived from non-immunogenic tumours improved survival of tumour bearing mice.