Purpose:

To evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of irreversible electroporation (IRE) combined with the intratumoral injection of the immunogenic adjuvant poly-ICLC (polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid and poly-L-lysine, a dsRNA analog mimicking viral RNA) inmediately before IRE.


Materials and methods:

Mice and rabbits bearing hepatocellular carcinoma tumors (Hepa.129 and VX2 tumor models, respectively) were treated with IRE (2 pulses of 2500V), with poly-ICLC, or with IRE + poly-ICLC combination therapy. Tumor growth in mice was monitored using a digital caliper and by computed tomography in rabbits.


Results:

Intratumoral administration of poly-ICLC immediately before IRE elicited shrinkage of Hepa.129 cell-derived tumors in 70% of mice, compared to 30% and 26% by poly-ICLC or IRE alone, respectively (P = .0004). This combined therapy induced the shrinkage of VX-2-based hepatocellular carcinoma tumors in 40% of rabbits, whereas no response was achieved by either individual treatment (P = .045). The combined therapy activated a systemic antitumor response able to inhibit the growth of other untreated tumors.


Conclusions:

IRE treatment, immediately preceded by the intratumoral administration of an immunogenic adjuvant such as poly-ICLC, might enhance the antitumor effect of the IRE procedure. This combination might facilitate the induction of a long-term systemic response to prevent tumor relapses and the appearance of metastases.



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