Optimized biodegradable polymeric reservoir-mediated local and sustained co-delivery of dendritic cells and oncolytic adenovirus co-expressing IL-12 and GM-CSF for cancer immunotherapy

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Administration of dendritic cells (DCs) combined with oncolytic adenovirus (Ad) expressing antitumor cytokines induces a potent antitumor effect and antitumor immunity by ameliorating the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. However, this combination therapy has significant limitations due to rapid dissemination and inactivation of the therapeutics at the tumor site, necessitating multiple injections of both therapeutics. To overcome these limitations, we have utilized gelatin-based hydrogel to co-deliver oncolytic Ad co-expressing interleukin (IL)-12 and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) (oAd) and DCs for sustained release of both therapeutics. The injectable and biodegradable hydrogels were prepared by mixing the polymer solutions containing horseradish peroxidase and hydrogen peroxide. Gel matrix enabled sustained release of both oAd and DCs while preserving their biological activity over a considerable time period, leading to efficient retention of both therapeutics in tumor tissue. Further, tumors treated with oAd- and DC-loaded gel (oAd + DC/gel) showed a significantly greater expression level of IL-12, GM-CSF, and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) than either single treatment (oAd or DC) or oAd in combination with DC (oAd + DC), resulting in efficient activation of both endogenous and exogenous DCs, migration of DCs to draining lymph nodes, and tumor infiltration of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Moreover, oAd + DC/gel resulted in a significantly higher number of tumor-specific IFN-γ–secreting immune cells compared with oAd + DC. Lastly, oAd + DC/gel significantly attenuated tumor-mediated thymic atrophy, which is associated with immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment, compared with oAd + DC. Taken together, these results demonstrate that gelatin gel-mediated co-delivery of oncolytic Ad and DCs might be a promising strategy to efficiently retain both therapeutics in tumor tissue and induce a potent antitumor immune response for an extended time period via a single administration.

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