Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly metastatic disease. Tumors are poorly immunogenic and immunosuppressive, preventing T cell activation in the tumor microenvironment. Here, we present a microbial-based immunotherapeutic treatment for selective delivery of an immunogenic tetanus toxoid protein (TT856-1313) into PDAC tumor cells by attenuated Listeria monocytogenes. This treatment reactivated preexisting TT-specific memory T cells to kill infected tumor cells in mice. Treatment of KrasG12D,p53R172H, Pdx1-Cre (KPC) mice with Listeria-TT resulted in TT accumulation inside tumor cells, attraction of TT-specific memory CD4 T cells to the tumor microenvironment, and production of perforin and granzyme B in tumors. Low doses of gemcitabine (GEM) increased immune effects of Listeria-TT, turning immunologically cold into hot tumors in mice. In vivo depletion of T cells from Listeria-TT + GEM-treated mice demonstrated a CD4 T cell-mediated reduction in tumor burden. CD4 T cells from TT-vaccinated mice were able to kill TT-expressing Panc-02 tumor cells in vitro. In addition, peritumoral lymph node-like structures were observed in close contact with pancreatic tumors in KPC mice treated with Listeria-TT or Listeria-TT + GEM. These structures displayed CD4 and CD8 T cells producing perforin and granzyme B. Whereas CD4 T cells efficiently infiltrated the KPC tumors, CD8 T cells did not. Listeria-TT + GEM treatment of KPC mice with advanced PDAC reduced tumor burden by 80% and metastases by 87% after treatment and increased survival by 40% compared to nontreated mice. These results suggest that Listeria-delivered recall antigens could be an alternative to neoantigen-mediated cancer immunotherapy.
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