Ex vivo dendritic cell-based (DC) vaccine pulsed with a low dose of liposomal antigen and CpG-ODN improved PD-1 blockade immunotherapy
Lack of pre-existing tumor infiltrated T cells resulting in resistance to programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) blockade therapies can be solved by combining with anti-cancer vaccines and CpG-ODN in increasing T cell expansion and infiltration. Therefore, we prepared an ex vivo dendritic cell-based (DC) vaccine pulsed with a low dose of either liposomal or non-liposomal gp100 antigen (2.8 µg) plus CpG-ODN (800 ng) formulations and evaluated its anti-tumor activity in combination with anti-PD-1 therapy. Our results showed a combination of liposomal peptide plus CpG-ODN pulsed DC with anti-PD-1 antibody was more efficacious, as evidenced by a significant increase in T/T TILs with a marked fourfold elevation of IFN-γ expression level in the tumor site of treated mice which reversed resistance to PD-1 blockade in a CD8 T cell-dependent manner. Furthermore, this combination also led to a remarkable tumor remission and prolonged survival rate in melanoma-bearing mice compared to non-liposomal peptide plus CpG-ODN or single-treated liposomal peptide formulations. Our results provide essential insights to devise combining regimens to improve the efficacy of immune checkpoint blockers even by a low dose of peptide and CpG-ODN.