The purpose of this study was to investigate the anti-tumor effect and potential mechanisms of i.p. hyperthermia in combination with α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) for the treatment of ovarian cancer. In this study, immuno-competent tumor models were established using murine ovarian cancer cell lines and treated with i.p. hyperthermia combining α-GalCer. Th1/Th2 cytokine expression profiles in the serum, NK cell cytotoxicity and phagocytic activities of dendritic cells (DCs) were assayed. We also analyzed the number of CD8+/IFN-γ+ tumor specific cytotoxic T cells, as well as the tumor growth based on depletion of lymphocyte sub-population. Therapeutic effect on those ovarian tumors was monitored by a non-invasive luminescent imaging system. Intra-peritoneal hyperthermia induced significant pro-inflammatory cytokines expression, and sustained the response of NK and DCs induced by α-GalCer treatment. The combination treatment enhanced the cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) immune response in two mouse ovarian cancer models. This novel treatment modality by combination of hyperthermia and glycolipid provides a pronounced anti-tumor immune response and better survival. In conclusion, intra-peritoneal hyperthermia enhanced the pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion and phagocytic activity of DCs stimulated by α-GalCer. The subsequent CTL immune response induced by α-GalCer was further strengthened by combining with i.p. hyperthermia. Both innate and adaptive immunities were involved and resulted in a superior therapeutic effect in treating the ovarian cancer.
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