HER-2/neu is overexpressed in several cancers including 30% of breast carcinomas, and correlates with a poor outcome. HER-2/neu-transgenic (neu-N) mice that overexpress the non-transforming rat neu develop spontaneous mammary carcinomas and demonstrate immunotolerance to the neu protein similar to that observed in patients with neu-expressing cancers. In neu-N mice, neu-targeted vaccination induces weak T cell and negligible Ab responses sufficient to delay but not eradicate transplanted neu-expressing tumor. Here we demonstrate that passive infusion of neu-specific mAbs in sequence with whole cell vaccination significantly improves tumor-free survival over either modality alone. Importantly, treatment of neu-N mice with vaccine in combination with two distinct neu-specific Abs is particularly efficacious, preventing tumor in 70% and eradicating established tumor in 30% of neu-N mice. In vivo lymphocyte subpopulation depletion experiments demonstrate that the efficacy of Ab, alone or combined with vaccine, is dependent on both CD4+ and CD8 + T cells. Furthermore, the in vivo antitumor effects of vaccine and Ab are associated with a significant increase in the number and function of neu-specific CD8+ T cells. Collectively, these observations suggest that similarly increased efficacy could be obtained by combining neu-targeted vaccination and neu-specific Abs such as trastuzumab (Herceptin) in patients with neu-expressing cancers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy