CXCL10 and Nrf2-upregulated mesenchymal stem cells reinvigorate T lymphocytes for combating glioblastoma

January, 01, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Lack of tumor-infiltrating T lymphocytes and concurrent T-cell dysfunction have been identified as major contributors to glioblastoma (GBM) immunotherapy resistance. Upregulating CXCL10 in the tumor microenvironment (TME) is a promising immunotherapeutic approach that potentially increases tumor-infiltrating T cells and boosts T-cell activity but is lacking effective delivery methods.


In this study, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were transduced with a recombinant lentivirus encoding Cxcl10, Nrf2 (an anti-apoptosis gene), and a ferritin heavy chain (Fth) reporter gene in order to increase their CXCL10 secretion, TME survival, and MRI visibility. Using FTH-MRI guidance, these cells were injected into the tumor periphery of orthotopic GL261 and CT2A GBMs in mice. Combination therapy consisting of CXCL10-Nrf2-FTH-MSC transplantation together with immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) was also performed for CT2A GBMs. Thereafter, in vivo and serial MRI, survival analysis, and histology examinations were conducted to assess the treatments’ efficacy and mechanism.


CXCL10-Nrf2-FTH-MSCs exhibit enhanced T lymphocyte recruitment, oxidative stress tolerance, and iron accumulation. Under in vivo FTH-MRI guidance and monitoring, peritumoral transplantation of CXCL10-Nrf2-FTH-MSCs remarkably inhibited orthotopic GL261 and CT2A tumor growth in C57BL6 mice and prolonged animal survival. While ICB alone demonstrated no therapeutic impact, CXCL10-Nrf2-FTH-MSC transplantation combined with ICB demonstrated an enhanced anticancer effect for CT2A GBMs compared with transplanting it alone. Histology revealed that peritumorally injected CXCL10-Nrf2-FTH-MSCs survived longer in the TME, increased CXCL10 production, and ultimately remodeled the TME by increasing CD8+ T cells, interferon-+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), GzmB+ CTLs, and Th1 cells while reducing regulatory T cells (Tregs), exhausted CD8+ and exhausted CD4+ T cells.


MRI-guided peritumoral administration of CXCL10 and Nrf2-overexpressed MSCs can significantly limit GBM growth by revitalizing T lymphocytes within TME. The combination application of CXCL10-Nrf2-FTH-MSC transplantation and ICB therapy presents a potentially effective approach to treating GBM.

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