Interleukin 12 is a promising anti-cancer agent; however, IL12 systemic administration is hampered by side-effects. Although intratumoral administration of IL12 is giving promising results in clinical trials, only a small percentage of patients show a complete therapeutic response. This outcome could be improved by controlling the IL12 expression window. In this work we have tested the efficacy of a self-processing P2A and codon optimized murine IL12 (mIL12Pop) using inflammation-regulated lentivectors in a syngeneic tumor model. Our results show that implantation of cells expressing mIL12Pop employing either the strong constitutive SFFV promoter or a NFkB-based promoter reduced tumor growth, caused CD8+ T cell activation and increased IFNγ production. Importantly, the use of NFkBp-mIL12Pop increased the number of CD8+ TILs and improved the remission rate without increasing IL12-serum concentration. Further experiments suggest that there is a threshold intratumoral IL12 concentration that must be reached to trigger an efficient antitumor response and a limit that once surpassed causes detrimental systemic side effects. Altogether, these results demonstrate that using NFKBp-mIL12Pop significantly increases the overall survival of the mice. In summary, this new inflammation-regulated expression system might be useful for the development of new IL12 delivery systems with improved anti-tumor activity and limited toxicity.
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We thank Dr. Filip Lim for critical reading of the manuscript and helpful discussions. We thankfully acknowledge the technical assistance at the CNIO Histopathology Core Unit and Animal Facility.
AR is supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO; SAF2012-32166) and the Comunidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain (S2010/BMD-2312). FM is supported by the Comunidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain (S2017/BMD-3867) and co-financed by European Structural and Investment Funds. AA and JMZ are supported by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Spain (PI15/01491 and PI16/00895, respectively). HA holds a research fellowship from Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (FPU14/04726).
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Garaulet, G., Pérez-Chacon, G., Alarcón, H. et al. Intratumoral expression using a NFkB-based promoter enhances IL12 antitumor efficacy. Cancer Gene Ther 26, 216–233 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41417-018-0076-4