Restriction lift date: 2026-09-30
Characterisation of the effect of electroporation and electrochemotherapy on cancer cells and immune cells in the tumour microenvironment
University College Cork
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, with the lung cancer incidence rate expected to rise further. Despite recently developed novel therapy options, 5-year survival rates for lung cancer patients remains below 20% generally and below 5% for late-stage diagnosis, thus additional therapy options are still needed. Electrochemotherapy (ECT), the application of an electric pulse to deliver chemotherapy drugs into cells, could be a new treatment option for lung cancer patients. ECT is a locally very effective treatment, with local tumour reduction of up to 85%, while the systemic effects are more varied. For clinical application ECT treatment modalities have been standardized since 2006, after the ESOPE study, which optimized ECT parameters to 8 pulses at 1000V/cm with 100µs pulse length at 1Hz frequency and either bleomycin or cisplatin as the drug of choice. To evaluate whether ECT could be a potential treatment option for lung cancer patients’ ECT parameters, the needed electric field strength and the needed drug and drug concentration, were optimized for in vitro lung cancer research. In our study, we initially developed a standard operating protocol (SOP) to determine the optimal electric field strength for a given cancer cell line in vitro, while keeping the other ESOPE parameters constant. The developed SOP combined short-, medium-, and long-term assays to fully visualize the impact treatment, at a given field strength, has on the tested cancer cell line. This evaluation showed that human lung cancer cell lines (A549, H460 and SK-MES 1) and the human pancreatic Pan02 cell line have an optimal electric field strength of 800V/cm, the melanoma A375 (human) and B16F10 (murine) cell lines as well as the murine pancreatic Mia-PACA2 cell line have an optimal electric field strength of 700V/cm, while the murine Lewis Lung carcinoma (LLC) cell line has an optimal electric field strength of 1300V/cm. In addition, our study findings demonstrate that cisplatin at 11µM would be the drug of choice when using ECT for lung cancer treatments. In recent years while the importance of the immune system in lung cancer development and treatment results has become increasingly clear, little is known about how ECT treatments impact immune cells. Therefore, the impact of ECT on murine T cells, dendritic cells (DCs) and macrophages was evaluated in vitro. Our data indicates that while T cells are able to tolerate electric field strengths of up to 1400V/cm, DCs and macrophages are significantly negatively impacted by electric field strengths exceeding 800V/cm. Further investigation on the impact of ECT on dendritic cells demonstrated that DCs die via necrosis following ECT treatment, while ECT at electric field strength exceeding 1000V/cm leads to DC maturation and activation of the surviving cells. In addition, DCs remain partially functional following ECT treatment in a stimuli and treatment dependent manner with distinctively different sets of genes upregulated 4-hours post treatment at 800V/cm compared to treatment at 1000V/cm and 1300V/cm. Taken together, our data indicates that it is worthwhile to further investigate ECT as a potential therapy option for lung cancer patients, while more attention needs to be paid to the impact ECT has on immune cells in order to maximize treatment results.
Electrochemotherapy , Lung cancer , Immune system , Dendritic cells
Bendix, M. B. S. 2022. Characterisation of the effect of electroporation and electrochemotherapy on cancer cells and immune cells in the tumour microenvironment. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.