Introduction: Anti-idiotype antibodies against B cell lymphoma have shown remarkable success in causing tumor regression in the clinic. In addition to their known ability to mediate ADCC, anti-idiotype antibodies have also been shown to directly inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells by sending negative growth signals via the target idiotype. However, further studies to investigate this mechanism have been hindered by the failure of patient tumor cells to grow ex vivo.

Methods and Results: In order to study this phenomenon further, we developed an antibody against the idiotype on an A20 mouse B lymphoma cell line. A radioactive thymidine incorporation assay showed decreased A20 cell proliferation in the presence of the anti-id antibody ex vivo. In vivo, when mice were treated intraperitoneally (i.p.) with 100 μg of antibody 3 hours post-tumor inoculation (1×106 A20 subcutaneously (s.c.)), tumor growth was delayed for greater than 40 days after which the tumor began to grow once again. Further analysis of these escaping tumor cells by flow cytometry showed that that the tumor cells escaped the antibody-mediated immune response by down-regulating expression of idiotype and IgG on their surfaces although the cells retained idiotype expression intracellularly. This down-regulation of surface idiotype rendered the tumor cells resistant to both ADCC and signaling-induced cell death. The addition of an immunostimulatory bacterial mimic (CpG-DNA; 100 μg × 5 intratumoral (i.t.) injections; Days 2, 3 4, 6 & 8) to antibody therapy (Day 0; 100 μg i.p.) cured large established tumors (Day 0 = 1 cm2) and prevented the occurrence of tumor escapees (p<0.0001). Antibody plus CpG combination therapy in tumor-bearing mice deficient for CD8+ T cells demonstrated the critical role of CD8+ T cells in A20 tumor eradication (p<0.005). Depletion of CD4+ T cells was found to have no significant impact on the therapy. We also found that when mice were inoculated with two tumors and treated with anti-idiotype antibody (i.p.) followed by intratumoral CpG in just one tumor (Day 0=1 cm2; anti-idiotype antibody 100 μg Day 0; 100 μg CpG Days 2, 3, 4, 6 & 8), untreated tumors regressed just as well as CpG-treated tumors indicating a systemic anti-tumor immune response was generated.

Conclusion: Anti-idiotype therapy, although effective in delaying tumor growth, frequently generates antigen-loss variants. However, we found that when anti-idiotype antibodies were combined with CpG, even large established tumors were cured due to systemic CD8+ T cell-dependent tumor immunity. Rather than simply mediating ADCC against a single tumor antigen, which requires the constant infusion of antibody to hamper tumor growth, we hypothesize a cytotoxic T-cell response against many tumor antigens was also generated. Such a diverse T-cell repertoire can prevent the emergence of tumor escapees and collectively provide long-lasting tumor protection. These pre-clinical results suggest that anti-tumor antibodies combined with CpG warrant further study in patients with B cell lymphoma.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

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