RCAd-LTH-shPD-L1, a double-gene recombinant oncolytic adenovirus with enhanced antitumor immunity, increases lymphocyte infiltration and reshapes the tumor microenvironment

January, 01, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


With the successful development of modern immunotherapy, immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) are currently considered potential therapeutic options for patients with cancer. However, the therapeutic potential of ICIs in human cancer is mainly limited by their systemic toxicity and low response rate, which suggests the necessity of local drug delivery with an effective vector and reshaping the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) to enhance ICI therapy. Here, we constructed a novel double-gene recombinant oncolytic adenovirus named RCAd-LTH-shPD-L1 based on the RCAd virus platform armed with a DNA fragment encoding an anti-VEGF antibody and shRNA to inhibit PD-L1 expression.


The correct assembly of RCAd-LTH-shPD-L1 was characterized by analyzing its secretion, antigen specificity, and replication using western blotting, ELISA and quantitative PCR, respectively. The in vitro effects of RCAd-LTH-shPD-L1 on cell proliferation, vasculogenic, and cell migration were assessed. Antitumor effects and therapeutic mechanisms were evaluated in vivo using immunodeficient and humanized immune system mouse models. The TME was studied by ELISA, immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry.


RCAd-LTH-shPD-L1 cells secreted anti-VEGF antibodies and inhibited the expression of PD-L1 in cancer cells. Moreover, RCAd-LTH-shPD-L1 exerted a specific cytotoxic effect on human cancer cells, but not on murine cancer cells or normal human cells. RCAd-LTH-shPD-L1 elicited a more potent antitumor effect in an immunodeficient mouse model and a humanized immune system mouse model than RCAd-shPD-L1, as demonstrated by the significant decrease in tumor growth. Furthermore, RCAd-LTH-shPD-L1 modulated the TME, which led to lymphocyte infiltration and alteration of their immune phenotype, as characterized by downregulation of anoxic factor HIF-1α and angiogenesis marker CD31, upregulation of cytokine such as IFN-, IL-6 and IL-12.


In summary, our data demonstrated that the localized delivery of anti-VEGF antibodies and shPD-L1 by engineered RCAd-LTH-shPD-L1 is a highly effective and safe strategy for cancer immunotherapy. Moreover, the data underscore the potential of combining local virotherapy and anti-angiogenic therapy with ICIs as an effective TME therapy for poorly infiltrating tumors.

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