Antitumor Effect of Malaria Parasite Infection in a Murine Lewis Lung Cancer Model through Induction of Innate and Adaptive Immunity
Lili Chen1,3, Zhengxiang He1,3, Li Qin1,3, Qinyan Li1,3, Xibao Shi1, Siting Zhao1, Ling Chen1, Nanshan Zhong2*, Xiaoping Chen1,3*
Lung cancer is the most common malignancy in humans and its high fatality means that no effective treatment is available. Developing new therapeutic strategies for lung cancer is urgently needed. Malaria has been reported to stimulate host immune responses, which are believed to be efficacious for combating some clinical cancers. This study is aimed to provide evidence that malaria parasite infection is therapeutic for lung cancer.
Antitumor effect of malaria infection was examined in both subcutaneously and intravenously implanted murine Lewis lung cancer (LLC) model. The results showed that malaria infection inhibited LLC growth and metastasis and prolonged the survival of tumor-bearing mice. Histological analysis of tumors from mice infected with malaria revealed that angiogenesis was inhibited, which correlated with increased terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated (TUNEL) staining and decreased Ki-67 expression in tumors. Through natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity activity, cytokine assays, enzyme-linked immunospot assay, lymphocyte proliferation, and flow cytometry, we demonstrated that malaria infection provided anti-tumor effects by inducing both a potent anti-tumor innate immune response, including the secretion of IFN-γ and TNF-α and the activation of NK cells as well as adaptive anti-tumor immunity with increasing tumor-specific T-cell proliferation and cytolytic activity of CD8+ T cells. Notably, tumor-bearing mice infected with the parasite developed long-lasting and effective tumor-specific immunity. Consequently, we found that malaria parasite infection could enhance the immune response of lung cancer DNA vaccine pcDNA3.1-hMUC1 and the combination produced a synergistic antitumor effect.
Malaria infection significantly suppresses LLC growth via induction of innate and adaptive antitumor responses in a mouse model. These data suggest that the malaria parasite may provide a novel strategy or therapeutic vaccine vector for anti-lung cancer immune-based therapy