[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite extensive study, few therapeutic targets have been identified for glioblastoma (GBM). Here we show that patient-derived glioma sphere cultures (GSCs) that resemble either the proneural (PN) or mesenchymal (MES) transcriptomal subtypes differ significantly in their biological characteristics. Moreover, we found that a subset of the PN GSCs undergoes differentiation to a MES state in a TNF-a/ NF-kB-dependent manner with an associated enrichment of CD44 subpopulations and radioresistant phenotypes. We present data to suggest that the tumor microenvironment cell types such as macro-phages/microglia may play an integral role in this process. We further show that the MES signature, CD44 expression, and NF-kB activation correlate with poor radiation response and shorter survival in patients with GBM. Significance In this study, we characterize plasticity between the proneural (PN) and mesenchymal (MES) transcriptome signatures observed in glioblastoma (GBM). Specifically, we show that PN glioma sphere cultures (GSCs) can be induced to a MES state with an associated enrichment of CD44 expressing cells and a gain of radioresistance, in an NF-kB-dependent fashion. Newly diagnosed GBM samples show a direct correlation among radiation response, higher MES metagene, CD44 expres-sion, and NF-kB activation, and we propose macrophages/microglia as a potential microenvironmental component that can regulate this transition. Our results reveal a mechanistic link between transcriptome plasticity, radiation resistance, and NF-kB signaling. Inhibition of NF-kB activation can directly affect radioresistance and presents an attractive therapeutic target for GBM.
Cancer Cell 09/2013; 24:331-346. · 24.76 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite extensive study, few therapeutic targets have been identified for glioblastoma (GBM). Here we show that patient-derived glioma sphere cultures (GSCs) that resemble either the proneural (PN) or mesenchymal (MES) transcriptomal subtypes differ significantly in their biological characteristics. Moreover, we found that a subset of the PN GSCs undergoes differentiation to a MES state in a TNF-α/NF-κB-dependent manner with an associated enrichment of CD44 subpopulations and radioresistant phenotypes. We present data to suggest that the tumor microenvironment cell types such as macrophages/microglia may play an integral role in this process. We further show that the MES signature, CD44 expression, and NF-κB activation correlate with poor radiation response and shorter survival in patients with GBM.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A large unmet need exists for cost-effective, widely available antineoplastic immunotherapeutic agents with a robust translational potential. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) that regulate tumor-mediated immunosuppression or immune checkpoints can induce robust therapeutic immune responses, indicating that miRNAs may ultimately become part of the portfolio of anticancer immunotherapeutics.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The molecular heterogeneity of glioblastoma has been well recognized and has resulted in the generation of molecularly defined subtypes. These subtypes (classical, neural, mesenchymal, and proneural) are associated with particular signaling pathways and differential patient survival. Less understood is the correlation between these glioblastoma subtypes with immune system effector responses, immune suppression and tumor-associated and tumor-specific antigens. The role of the immune system is becoming increasingly relevant to treatment as new agents are being developed to target mediators of tumor-induced immune suppression which is well documented in glioblastoma.
To ascertain the association of antigen expression, immune suppression, and effector response genes within glioblastoma subtypes, we analyzed the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) glioblastoma database.
We found an enrichment of genes within the mesenchymal subtype that are reflective of anti-tumor proinflammatory responses, including both adaptive and innate immunity and immune suppression.
These results indicate that distinct glioma antigens and immune genes demonstrate differential expression between glioblastoma subtypes and this may influence responses to immune therapeutic strategies in patients depending on the subtype of glioblastoma they harbor.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRs) have been shown to modulate critical gene transcripts involved in tumorigenesis, but their role in tumor-mediated immune suppression is largely unknown. On the basis of miRNA gene expression in gliomas using tissue microarrays, in situ hybridization, and molecular modeling, miR-124 was identified as a lead candidate for modulating signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) signaling, a key pathway mediating immune suppression in the tumor microenvironment. miR-124 is absent in all grades and pathological types of gliomas. Upon up regulating miR-124 in glioma cancer stem cells (gCSCs), the STAT3 pathway was inhibited, and miR-124 reversed gCSC-mediated immune suppression of T-cell proliferation and induction of Foxp3+ regulatory T-cells (Tregs). Treatment of T-cells from immunosuppressed glioblastoma patients with miR-124 induced marked effector response including up regulation of IL-2, IFN-γ, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. Both systemic administration of miR-124 or adoptive miR-124-transfected T-cell transfers exerted potent anti-glioma therapeutic effects in clonotypic and genetically engineered murine models of glioblastoma and enhanced effector responses in the local tumor microenvironment. These therapeutic effects were ablated in both CD4+ and CD8+ depleted mice and nude mouse systems, indicating that the therapeutic effect of miR-124 depends on the presence of a T-cell-mediated antitumor immune response. Our findings highlight the potential application of miR-124 as a novel immunotherapeutic agent for neoplasms and serve as a model for identifying miRNAs that can be exploited as immune therapeutics.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS) is a cytokine involved in differentiation and survival of follicular B cells along with humoral response potentiation. Lymphopenia is known to precipitate dramatic elevation in serum BLyS; however, the use of this effect to enhance humoral responses following vaccination has not been evaluated. We evaluated BLyS serum levels and antigen-specific antibody titers in 8 patients undergoing therapeutic temozolomide (TMZ)-induced lymphopenia, with concomitant vaccine against a tumor-specific mutation in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFRvIII). Our studies demonstrate that TMZ-induced lymphopenia corresponded with spikes in serum BLyS that directly preceded the induction of anti-EGFRvIII antigen-specific antibody titers, in some cases as high as 1:2,000,000. Our data are the first clinical observation of BLyS serum elevation and greatly enhanced humoral immune responses as a consequence of chemotherapy-induced lymphopenia. These observations should be considered for the development of future vaccination strategies in the setting of malignancy.
Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy 04/2013; · 3.64 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Object Seizures are a potentially devastating complication of resection of brain tumors. Consequently, many neurosurgeons administer prophylactic antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in the perioperative period. However, it is currently unclear whether perioperative AEDs should be routinely administered to patients with brain tumors who have never had a seizure. Therefore, the authors conducted a prospective, randomized trial examining the use of phenytoin for postoperative seizure prophylaxis in patients undergoing resection for supratentorial brain metastases or gliomas. Methods Patients with brain tumors (metastases or gliomas) who did not have seizures and who were undergoing craniotomy for tumor resection were randomized to receive either phenytoin for 7 days after tumor resection (prophylaxis group) or no seizure prophylaxis (observation group). Phenytoin levels were monitored daily. Primary outcomes were seizures and adverse events. Using an estimated seizure incidence of 30% in the observation arm and 10% in the prophylaxis arm, a Type I error of 0.05 and a Type II error of 0.20, a target accrual of 142 patients (71 per arm) was planned. Results The trial was closed before completion of accrual because Bayesian predictive probability analyses performed by an independent data monitoring committee indicated a probability of 0.003 that at the end of the study prophylaxis would prove superior to observation and a probability of 0.997 that there would be insufficient evidence at the end of the trial to choose either arm as superior. At the time of trial closure, 123 patients (77 metastases and 46 gliomas) were randomized, with 62 receiving 7-day phenytoin (prophylaxis group) and 61 receiving no prophylaxis (observation group). The incidence of all seizures was 18% in the observation group and 24% in the prophylaxis group (p = 0.51). Importantly, the incidence of early seizures (< 30 days after surgery) was 8% in the observation group compared with 10% in the prophylaxis group (p = 1.0). Likewise, the incidence of clinically significant early seizures was 3% in the observation group and 2% in the prophylaxis group (p = 0.62). The prophylaxis group experienced significantly more adverse events (18% vs 0%, p < 0.01). Therapeutic phenytoin levels were maintained in 80% of patients. Conclusions The incidence of seizures after surgery for brain tumors is low (8% [95% CI 3%-18%]) even without prophylactic AEDs, and the incidence of clinically significant seizures is even lower (3%). In contrast, routine phenytoin administration is associated with significant drug-related morbidity. Although the lower-than-anticipated incidence of seizures in the control group significantly limited the power of the study, the low baseline rate of perioperative seizures in patients with brain tumors raises concerns about the routine use of prophylactic phenytoin in this patient population.
Journal of Neurosurgery 02/2013; · 3.15 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Malignant gliomas contain stroma and a variety of immune cells including abundant activated microglia/macrophages. Mounting evidence indicates that the glioma microenvironment converts the glioma-associated microglia/macrophages (GAMs) into glioma-supportive, immunosuppressive cells; however, GAMs can retain intrinsic anti-tumor properties. Here, we review and discuss this duality and the potential therapeutic strategies that may inhibit their glioma-supportive and propagating functions.
Clinical and Developmental Immunology 01/2013; 2013:285246. · 3.06 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Determining the mechanism of treatment failure of VEGF signaling inhibitors for malignant glioma patients would provide insight into approaches to overcome therapeutic resistance. In this study, we demonstrate that human glioblastoma tumors failing bevacizumab have an increase in the mean percentage of p-STAT3-expressing cells compared to samples taken from patients failing non-antiangiogenic therapy containing regimens. Likewise, in murine xenograft models of glioblastoma, the mean percentage of p-STAT3-expressing cells in the gliomas resistant to antiangiogenic therapy was markedly elevated relative to controls. Administration of the JAK/STAT3 inhibitor AZD1480 alone and in combination with cediranib reduced tumor hypoxia and the infiltration of VEGF inhibitor-induced p-STAT3 macrophages. Thus, the combination of AZD1480 with cediranib markedly reduced tumor volume, and microvascular density, indicating that up regulation of the STAT3 pathway can mediate resistance to antiangiogenic therapy and combinational approaches may delay or overcome resistance.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3 has been described as a "master regulator" of signaling pathways involved in the transition from low-grade glioma (LGG) to high-grade glioma (HGG). Although STAT3 is overexpressed in HGGs, it remains unclear whether its overexpression is sufficient to induce or promote the malignant progression of glioma. To characterize the effect of STAT3 expression on tumor progression in vivo, we expressed the STAT3 gene in glioneuronal progenitor cells in mice. STAT3 was expressed alone or concurrently with platelet-derived growth factor B (PDGFB), a well-described initiator of LGG. STAT3 alone was insufficient to induce tumor formation; however, coexpression of STAT3 with PDGFB in mice resulted in a significantly higher incidence of HGGs than PDGFB alone. The median symptomatic tumor latency in mice coexpressing STAT3 and PDGFB was significantly shorter, and mice that developed symptomatic tumors demonstrated significantly higher expression of phosphorylated STAT3 intratumorally. In HGGs, expression of STAT3 was associated with suppression of apoptosis and an increase in tumor cell proliferation. HGGs induced by STAT3 and PDGFB also displayed frequent foci of necrosis and microvascular proliferation. The expression of CD31 (a marker of endothelial proliferation) was significantly higher in tumors induced by coexpression of STAT3 and PDGFB. When mice injected with PDGFB and STAT3 were treated with a STAT3 inhibitor, median survival increased and the incidence of HGG and CD31 expression decreased significantly. These results demonstrate that STAT3 promotes the malignant progression of glioma. Inhibiting STAT3 expression mitigates tumor progression and improves survival, validating it as a therapeutic target.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is a key molecular hub of tumorigenesis and immune suppression. The expression of phosphorylated STAT3 (p-STAT3) has been shown to be higher in melanoma metastasis to the central nervous system (CNS) relative to distant metastasis in the rest of the body (systemic). We sought to determine whether the increased expression of p-STAT3 in non-CNS systemic melanoma metastasis is associated with an increased risk of developing CNS metastasis and is a negative prognostic factor for overall survival time.
We retrospectively identified 299 patients with stage IV melanoma. In a tissue microarray of systemic non-CNS metastasis specimens from these patients, we used immunohistochemical analysis to measure the percentage of cells with p-STAT3 expression and Kaplan-Meier survival estimates to analyze the association of p-STAT3 expression with median survival time, time to first CNS metastasis, and development of CNS metastasis.
Lung metastases exhibited the highest level of p-STAT3 expression while spleen lesions had the lowest. The p-STAT3 expression was not associated with an increased risk of developing CNS metastasis or time to CNS metastasis. However, p-STAT3 expression was a negative prognostic factor for overall survival time in patients that did not develop CNS metastasis.
Stage IV melanoma patients without CNS metastasis treated with p-STAT3 inhibitors in efficacy studies should be stratified based on tumor expression of p-STAT3; however since p-STAT3 expression is not associated with the risk of CNS disease, increased MRI surveillance of the brain is not likely necessary.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and glioma symposium was convened on April 17, 2011 in Washington, DC, and was attended by oncologists and virologists involved in studying the relationship between HCMV and gliomas. The purpose of the meeting was to reach a consensus on the role of HCMV in the pathology of gliomas and to clarify directions for future research. First, the group summarized data that describe how HCMV biology overlaps with the key pathways of cancer. Then, on the basis of published data and ongoing research, a consensus was reached that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that HCMV sequences and viral gene expression exist in most, if not all, malignant gliomas, that HCMV could modulate the malignant phenotype in glioblastomas by interacting with key signaling pathways; and that HCMV could serve as a novel target for a variety of therapeutic strategies. In summary, existing evidence supports an oncomodulatory role for HCMV in malignant gliomas, but future studies need to focus on determining the role of HCMV as a glioma-initiating event.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glioblastoma (GB), the most common primary neoplasm of the CNS, remains universally fatal with standard therapies and has a mean overall survival time of only 14.6 months. Even in the most favorable situations most patients do not survive longer than 2 years. Another hallmark of GBs, apart from the poor control of proliferation, is an immune suppressed tumor microenvironment. miRNAs usually bind the 3' untranslated region of target mRNAs and direct their post-transcriptional repression. Certain miRNAs are known to have altered expression levels in GB tumors, and in many immune cell subtypes. miRNAs have been found to serve important roles in gene regulation and are implicated in many processes in oncogenesis and immune deregulation. In this article we focus on the miRNAs involved in gliomagenesis and in the regulation of the immune response. We also present current challenges and miRNA immunotherapeutic strategies that should be investigated further.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Melanoma is a common and deadly tumor that upon metastasis to the central nervous system (CNS) has median survival duration of less than 5 months. Activation of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) has been identified as a key mediator that drives the fundamental components of melanoma. We hypothesized that WP1066, a novel inhibitor of STAT3 signaling, would enhance the antitumor activity of cyclophosphamide (CTX) against melanoma, including disease within the CNS. The mechanisms of efficacy were investigated by tumor- and immune-mediated cytotoxic assays, in vivo evaluation of the reduction of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and by determining intratumoral p-STAT3 expression by immunohistochemistry. Combinational therapy of WP1066, with both metronomic and cytotoxic dosing of CTX, was investigated in a model system of systemic and intracerebral melanoma in syngeneic mice. Inhibition of p-STAT3 by WP1066 was enhanced with CTX in a dose-dependent manner. However, in mice with intracerebral melanoma, the greatest therapeutic benefit was seen in animals treated with cytotoxic CTX dosing and WP1066, whose median survival time was 120 days, an increase of 375%, with 57% long-term survivors. This treatment efficacy correlated with p-STAT3 expression levels within the tumor microenvironment. The efficacy of the combination of cytotoxic dosing of CTX with WP1066 is attributed to the direct tumor cytotoxic effects of the agents and has the greatest therapeutic potential for the treatment of CNS melanoma.
International Journal of Cancer 07/2011; 131(1):8-17. · 6.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Response Assessment in Neuro-Oncology (RANO) Working Group is an international, multidisciplinary effort to develop new standardized response criteria for clinical trials in brain tumors. The RANO group identified knowledge gaps relating to the definitions of tumor response and progression after the use of surgical or surgically based treatments.
To outline a proposal for new response and progression criteria for the assessment of the effects of surgery and surgically delivered therapies for patients with gliomas.
The Surgery Working Group of RANO identified surgically related end-point evaluation problems that were not addressed in the original Macdonald criteria, performed an extensive literature review, and used a consensus-building process to develop recommendations for how to address these issues in the setting of clinical trials.
Recommendations were formulated for surgically related issues, including imaging changes associated with surgical resection or surgically mediated adjuvant local therapies, the determination of progression in the setting where all enhancing tumor has been removed, and how new enhancement should be interpreted in the setting where local therapies that are known to produce nonspecific enhancement have been used. Additionally, the terminology used to describe the completeness of surgical resections has been recognized to be inconsistently applied to enhancing vs nonenhancing tumors, and a new set of descriptors is proposed.
The RANO process is intended to produce end-point criteria for clinical trials that take into account the effects of prior and ongoing therapies. The RANO criteria will continue to evolve as new therapies and technologies are introduced into clinical trial and/or practice.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) has been ubiquitously detected within high-grade gliomas, but its role in gliomagenesis has not been fully elicited.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) tumors were analyzed by flow cytometry to determine CMV antigen expression within various glioma-associated immune populations. The glioma cancer stem cell (gCSC) CMV interleukin (IL)-10 production was determined by ELISA. Human monocytes were stimulated with recombinant CMV IL-10 and levels of expression of p-STAT3, VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), TGF-β, viral IE1, and pp65 were determined by flow cytometry. The influence of CMV IL-10-treated monocytes on gCSC biology was ascertained by functional assays.
CMV showed a tropism for macrophages (MΦ)/microglia and CD133+ gCSCs within GBMs. The gCSCs produce CMV IL-10, which induces human monocytes (the precursor to the central nervous system MΦs/microglia) to assume an M2 immunosuppressive phenotype (as manifested by downmodulation of the major histocompatibility complex and costimulatory molecules) while upregulating immunoinhibitory B7-H1. CMV IL-10 also induces expression of viral IE1, a modulator of viral replication and transcription in the monocytes. Finally, the CMV IL-10-treated monocytes produced angiogenic VEGF, immunosuppressive TGF-β, and enhanced migration of gCSCs.
CMV triggers a feedforward mechanism of gliomagenesis by inducing tumor-supportive monocytes.
Clinical Cancer Research 04/2011; 17(14):4642-9. · 7.84 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epidermal growth factor receptor variant III (EGFRvIII) is a tumor-specific mutation widely expressed in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and other neoplasms, but absent from normal tissues. Immunotherapeutic targeting of EGFRvIII could eliminate neoplastic cells more precisely but may be inhibited by concurrent myelosuppressive chemotherapy like temozolomide (TMZ), which produces a survival benefit in GBM. A phase II, multicenter trial was undertaken to assess the immunogenicity of an experimental EGFRvIII-targeted peptide vaccine in patients with GBM undergoing treatment with serial cycles of standard-dose (STD) (200 mg/m(2) per 5 days) or dose-intensified (DI) TMZ (100 mg/m(2) per 21 days). All patients receiving STD TMZ exhibited at least a transient grade 2 lymphopenia, whereas those receiving DI TMZ exhibited a sustained grade 3 lymphopenia (<500 cells/μL). CD3(+) T-cell (P = .005) and B-cell (P = .004) counts were reduced significantly only in the DI cohort. Patients in the DI cohort had an increase in the proportion of immunosuppressive regulatory T cells (T(Reg); P = .008). EGFRvIII-specific immune responses developed in all patients treated with either regimen, but the DI TMZ regimen produced humoral (P = .037) and delayed-type hypersensitivity responses (P = .036) of greater magnitude. EGFRvIII-expressing tumor cells were also eradicated in nearly all patients (91.6%; CI(95): 64.0%-99.8%; P < .0001). The median progression-free survival (15.2 months; CI(95): 11.0-18.5 months; hazard ratio [HR] = 0.35; P = .024) and overall survival (23.6 months; CI(95): 18.5-33.1 months; HR = 0.23; P = .019) exceeded those of historical controls matched for entry criteria and adjusted for known prognostic factors. EGFRvIII-targeted vaccination induces patient immune responses despite therapeutic TMZ-induced lymphopenia and eliminates EGFRvIII-expressing tumor cells without autoimmunity.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: High-grade primary and metastatic central nervous system (CNS) tumors are common, deadly, and refractory to conventional therapy and continue to be therapeutically challenging. A key nodal transcriptional factor, the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), drives the fundamental components of tumor malignancy and metastases in the CNS by enhancing proliferation, angiogenesis, invasion, metastasis, and immunosuppression. The introduction of STAT3 inhibitors in clinical trials for this patient population is imminent.
STAT3 inhibitors have been extensively tested in a variety of preclinical murine models.
The STAT3 inhibitor, WP1066, has displayed marked efficacy with minimal toxicity against malignancy in murine models, including established intracerebral tumors. The mechanism of this in vivo efficacy of the STAT3 blockade agents is a combination of direct tumor cytotoxicity and immune cytotoxic clearance.
Given their direct antitumor cytotoxic effects, STAT3 inhibitors may exert therapeutic activity in the monotherapy setting but may also have compelling use as immunotherapeutic modulators or as a salvage therapy.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: With the recent approval by the FDA of an immunotherapy for prostate cancer and another positive immunotherapy trial in melanoma, immunotherapy may finally be coming of age. So what will it take for it to become part of the standard treatment for glioblastoma? To put this question into perspective, we summarize critical background information in neuro-immunology, address immunotherapy clinical trial design, and discuss a number of extrinsic factors that will impact the development of immunotherapy in neuro-oncology.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a lethal cancer that exerts potent immune suppression. Hypoxia is a predominant feature of GBM, but it is unclear to the degree in which tumor hypoxia contributes to this tumor-mediated immunosuppression. Utilizing GBM associated cancer stem cells (gCSCs) as a treatment resistant population that has been shown to inhibit both innate and adaptive immune responses, we compared immunosuppressive properties under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Functional immunosuppression was characterized based on production of immunosuppressive cytokines and chemokines, the inhibition of T cell proliferation and effector responses, induction of FoxP3+ regulatory T cells, effect on macrophage phagocytosis, and skewing to the immunosuppressive M2 phenotype. We found that hypoxia potentiated the gCSC-mediated inhibition of T cell proliferation and activation and especially the induction of FoxP3+T cells, and further inhibited macrophage phagocytosis compared to normoxia condition. These immunosuppressive hypoxic effects were mediated by signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and its transcriptionally regulated products such as hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1α and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Inhibitors of STAT3 and HIF-1α down modulated the gCSCs' hypoxia-induced immunosuppressive effects. Thus, hypoxia further enhances GBM-mediated immunosuppression, which can be reversed with therapeutic inhibition of STAT3 and HIF-1α and also helps to reconcile the disparate findings that immune therapeutic approaches can be used successfully in model systems but have yet to achieve generalized successful responses in the vast majority of GBM patients by demonstrating the importance of the tumor hypoxic environment.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(1):e16195. · 3.73 Impact Factor