PURPOSE: Repeated instillations of bacillus Calmette et Guérin (BCG) are the gold standard immunotherapeutic treatment for reducing recurrence for patients with high-grade papillary non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) and for eradicating bladder carcinoma-in situ. Unfortunately, some patients are unable to tolerate BCG due to treatment-associated toxicity and bladder removal is sometimes performed for BCG-intolerance. Prior studies suggest that selectively delipidated BCG (dBCG) improves tolerability of intrapulmonary delivery reducing tissue damage and increasing efficacy in preventing Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in mice. To address the lack of treatment options for NMIBC with BCG-intolerance, we examined if selective delipidation would compromise BCG's antitumor efficacy and at the same time increase tolerability to the treatment.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Murine syngeneic MB49 bladder cancer models and in vitro human innate effector cell cytotoxicity assays were used to evaluate efficacy and immune impact of selective delipidation in Tokyo and TICE BCG strains.
RESULTS: Both dBCG-Tokyo and dBCG-TICE effectively treated subcutaneous MB49 tumors in mice and enhanced tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T and natural killer cells, similar to conventional BCG. However, when compared to conventional BCG, only dBCG-Tokyo retained a significant effect on intratumoral tumor-specific CD8+ and γδ T cells by increasing their frequencies in tumor tissue and their production of antitumoral function-related cytokines, i.e., IFN-γ and granzyme B. Further, dBCG-Tokyo but not dBCG-TICE enhanced the function and cytotoxicity of innate effector cells against human bladder cancer T24 in vitro.
CONCLUSIONS: These data support clinical investigation of dBCG-Tokyo as a treatment for patients with BCG-intolerant NMIBC.