We studied the impact of natural killer T (NKT) cell activation by alpha-galactocysylceramide (α-GalCer, α-GC) on cancer cell repopulation during chemotherapy in murine mesothelioma. The number of NKT cells was found to be increased during the development of murine mesothelioma. NKT cells specifically recognize α-GC through CD1d resulting in their activation and expansion. Tumor-bearing mice were treated with chemotherapy once weekly, and α-GC was followed after each cycle of chemotherapy. Anti-tumor effect was evaluated on wild-type (WT) and CD1d knockout (CD1dKO) mice. Cancer cell proliferation and apoptosis were evaluated by Ki67 and TUNEL immunohistochemistry. CD4+ and CD8+ T cell proportion and activation in tumor, spleen, draining lymph node and peripheral blood were determined by flow cytometry, and gene expression of activated T cell-related cytokines was quantified by reverse transcription PCR. NKT cells were identified by CD1d-α-GC-tetramer staining. In WT mice, tumor growth delay was achieved by cisplatin (Cis), and this effect was improved in combination with α-GC, but α-GC alone had little effect. Cancer cell proliferation during chemotherapy was significantly inhibited by α-GC, while cancer cell death was significantly upregulated. α-GC following chemotherapy resulted in NKT cell expansion and an increase of interferon-γ production in the draining lymph node, blood and spleen. Gene expression of immune-associated cytokines was upregulated. Strikingly, the percentage of inducible T cell co-stimulator+CD4 T cells, Th17/Tc17 cells increased in splenocytes. In CD1d KO mice, however, Cis alone was less effective and Cis + α-GC provided no additional benefit over Cis alone. α-GC alone had minimal effect in both mice. NKT activation between cycles of chemotherapy could improve the outcome of mesothelioma treatment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Cancer Research