Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(15):2346-2356. doi:10.7150/ijms.49983 This issue

Research Paper

Conjugation of TLR7 Agonist Combined with Demethylation Treatment Improves Whole-Cell Tumor Vaccine Potency in Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Guocheng Zhong1,2, Guangyi Jin3, Wei Zeng2, Changhua Yu2, Yan Li1, Ji Zhou3, Li Zhang3, Li Yu1,2✉

1. Department of Hematology and BMT center, the first Medical Center, Chinese PLA General Hospital. Beijing 100853, China.
2. Department of Hematology and Oncology, Shenzhen University General Hospital, Shenzhen 518055, China.
3. Carson International Cancer Center, Department of Medicine, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518037, China.

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Zhong G, Jin G, Zeng W, Yu C, Li Y, Zhou J, Zhang L, Yu L. Conjugation of TLR7 Agonist Combined with Demethylation Treatment Improves Whole-Cell Tumor Vaccine Potency in Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(15):2346-2356. doi:10.7150/ijms.49983. Available from

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Background: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a malignant hematological disease with high refractory rate. Immune escape of AML cells is one of the underlying mechanisms mediating the relapse of the cancers. Various immunotherapies based on the 'patients' immune response to tumor cells have been developed to targeting the immune escape of AML cells, which lead to the minimal residual disease (MRD) after treatment. But the efficacy of those treatments or the combination of treatments remains unsatisfactory.

Methods: A Toll-like receptor (TLR)-7 agonist SZU-106 was chemically synthesized. SZU-106 was conjugated to Decitabine (DAC), a demethylation agent, treated AML cells to construct tumor vaccine. The potency of the newly constructed AML cell vaccine, SZU-106-DAC-AML was tested in vitro and in vivo for the expression of tumor antigens and the activation level of immune responses.

Results: Compared to the well characterized TLR7 agonist R848, SZU-106 has a comparable potency to activate TLR7 signaling pathway. SZU-106-DAC-AML, constructed by conjugating SZU-106 to DAC treated tumor cells, exhibited increased expression of tumor antigens, and enhanced the activation of DC cells and T cells in vitro and in vivo. The result of xenograft tumor model showed that SZU-106-DAC-AML tumor vaccine greatly inhibited tumor growth and prolonged animal survival.

Conclusions: Conjugation of TLR7 agonist combined with up-regulation of tumor antigen expression improved the effectiveness of whole-cell tumor vaccine in AML.

Keywords: AML, TLR7, SZU-106, vaccine.