Immunogenic cell death by neoadjuvant oxaliplatin and radiation protects against metastatic failure in high-risk rectal cancer.
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionCancer Immunology and Immunotherapy. 2019 10.1007/s00262-019-02458-x
Objective High rates of systemic failure in locally advanced rectal cancer call for a rational use of conventional therapies to foster tumor-defeating immunity. Methods We analyzed the high-mobility group box-1 (HMGB1) protein, a measure of immunogenic cell death (ICD), in plasma sampled from 50 patients at the time of diagnosis and following 4 weeks of induction chemotherapy and 5 weeks of sequential chemoradiotherapy, both neoadjuvant modalities containing oxaliplatin. The patients had the residual tumor resected and were followed for long-term outcome. Results Patients who met the main study end point—freedom from distant recurrence—showed a significant rise in HMGB1 during the induction chemotherapy and consolidation over the chemoradiotherapy. The higher the ICD increase, the lower was the metastatic failure risk (hazard ratio 0.26, 95% confidence interval 0.11–0.62, P = 0.002). However, patients who received the full-planned oxaliplatin dose of the chemoradiotherapy regimen had poorer metastasis-free survival (P = 0.020) than those who had the oxaliplatin dose reduced to avert breach of the radiation delivery, which is critical to maintain efficient tumor cell kill and in the present case, probably also protected the ongoing radiation-dependent ICD response from systemic oxaliplatin toxicity. Conclusion The findings indicated that full-dose induction oxaliplatin followed by an adapted oxaliplatin dose that was compliant with full-intensity radiation caused induction and maintenance of ICD and as a result, durable disease-free outcome for a patient population prone to metastatic progression.