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Impact of CTLA-4 blockade in conjunction with metronomic chemotherapy on preclinical breast cancer growth

BACKGROUND:

Although there are reports that metronomic cyclophosphamide (CTX) can be immune stimulating, the impact of its combination with anti-CTLA-4 immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer remains to be evaluated.

METHODS:

Murine EMT-6/P breast cancer, or its cisplatin or CTX-resistant variants, or CT-26 colon, were implanted into Balb/c mice. Established tumours were monitored for relative growth following treatment with anti-CTLA-4 antibody alone or in combination with; (a) metronomic CTX (ldCTX; 20 mg kg-1 day-1), b) bolus (150 mg kg-1) plus ldCTX, or (c) sequential treatment with gemcitabine (160 mg kg-1 every 3 days).

RESULTS:

EMT-6/P tumours responded to anti-CTLA-4 therapy, but this response was less effective when combined with bolus plus ldCTX. Anti-CTLA-4 could be effectively combined with either ldCTX (without a bolus), or with regimens of either sequential or concomitant gemcitabine, including in orthotopic EMT-6 tumours, and independently of the schedule of drug administration. Tumour responses were confirmed with CT-26 tumours but were less pronounced in drug-resistant EMT-6/CTX or EMT-6/DDP tumour models than in the parent tumour. A number of tumour bearing mice developed spontaneous metastases under continuous therapy. The majority of cured mice rejected tumour re-challenges.

CONCLUSIONS:

Metronomic CTX can be combined with anti-CTLA-4 therapy, but this therapy is impaired by concomitant bolus CTX. Sequential therapy of anti-CTLA-4 followed by gemcitabine is effective in chemotherapy-naive tumours, although tumour relapses can occur, in some cases accompanied by the development of spontaneous metastases.

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