Counteracting Immunosuppression in the Tumor Microenvironment by Oncolytic Newcastle Disease Virus and Cellular Immunotherapy

PMID: 36361831
Journal: International journal of molecular sciences (volume: 23, issue: 21, Int J Mol Sci 2022 Oct;23(21))
Published: 2022-10-27

Schirrmacher V, van Gool S, Stuecker W


An apparent paradox exists between the evidence for spontaneous systemic T cell- mediated anti-tumor immune responses in cancer patients, observed particularly in their bone marrow, and local tumor growth in the periphery. This phenomenon, known as „concomitant immunity“ suggests that the local tumor and its tumor microenvironment (TME) prevent systemic antitumor immunity to become effective. Oncolytic Newcastle disease virus (NDV), an agent with inherent anti-neoplastic and immune stimulatory properties, is capable of breaking therapy resistance and immunosuppression. This review updates latest information about immunosuppression by the TME and discusses mechanisms of how oncolytic viruses, in particular NDV, and cellular immunotherapy can counteract the immunosuppressive effect of the TME. With regard to cellular immunotherapy, the review presents pre-clinical studies of post-operative active-specific immunotherapy and of adoptive T cell-mediated therapy in immunocompetent mice. Memory T cell (MTC) transfer in tumor challenged T cell-deficient nu/nu mice demonstrates longevity and functionality of these cells. Graft-versus-leukemia (GvL) studies in mice demonstrate complete remission of late-stage disease including metastases and cachexia. T cell based immunotherapy studies with human cells in human tumor xenotransplanted NOD/SCID mice demonstrate superiority of bone marrow-derived as compared to blood-derived MTCs. Results from clinical studies presented include vaccination studies using two different types of NDV-modified cancer vaccine and a pilot adoptive T-cell mediated therapy study using re-activated bone marrow-derived cancer-reactive MTCs. As an example for what can be expected from clinical immunotherapy against tumors with an immunosuppressive TME, results from vaccination studies are presented from the aggressive brain tumor glioblastoma multiforme. The last decades of basic research in virology, oncology and immunology can be considered as a success story. Based on discoveries of these research areas, translational research and clinical studies have changed the way of treatment of cancer by introducing and including immunotherapy.