Sorafenib combined with HER-2 targeted vaccination can promote effective T cell immunity in vivo

Melek M.E. Sunay, Jeremy B. Foote, James M. Leatherman, Justin P. Edwards, Todd D. Armstrong, Christopher J. Nirschl, Jessica Hicks, Leisha Emens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The tumor microenvironment (TME) is established and maintained through complex interactions between tumor cells and host stromal elements. Therefore, therapies that target multiple cellular components of the tumor may be most effective. Sorafenib, a multi-kinase inhibitor, alters signaling pathways in both tumor cells and host stromal cells. Thus, we explored the potential immune-modulating effects of sorafenib in a murine HER-2-(neu) overexpressing breast tumor model alone and in combination with a HER-2 targeted granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)-secreting vaccine (3T3neuGM). In vitro, sorafenib inhibited the growth of HER-2 overexpressing NT2.5 tumor cells, inducing apoptosis. Sorafenib also interfered with ERK MAPK, p38 MAPK, and STAT3 signaling, as well as cyclin D expression, but did not affect HER-2 or AKT signaling. In vivo, single agent sorafenib disrupted the tumor-associated vasculature and induced tumor cell apoptosis, effectively inducing the regression of established NT2.5 tumors in immune competent FVB/N mice. Immune depletion studies demonstrated that both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were required for tumor regression. Sorafenib treatment did not impact the rate of tumor clearance induced by vaccination with 3T3neuGM in tumor-bearing FVB/N mice relative to either sorafenib treatment or vaccination alone. In vivo studies further demonstrated that sorafenib enhanced the accumulation of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells into the TME of vaccinated mice. Together, these findings suggest that GM-CSF-secreting cellular immunotherapy may be integrated with sorafenib without impairing vaccine-based immune responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-123
Number of pages12
JournalInternational immunopharmacology
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Breast cancer
  • Immunity
  • Immunotherapy
  • Sorafenib
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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