Purdue University Graduate School

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posted on 2023-08-01, 14:31 authored by Shreya KumarShreya Kumar

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among American men. Prostate tumor cells exhibit significant tropism for the bone and once metastasis occurs, survival rates fall significantly. Current treatment options are not curative and focus on symptom management. Immunotherapies are rapidly emerging as a possible therapeutic option for a variety of cancers including prostate cancer, however, variable patient response remains a concern. Chemotherapies, like cabozantinib, can have immune-priming effects which sensitize tumors to immunotherapies. Additionally, lower doses of chemotherapy can be used in this context which can reduce patient side effects. It was hypothesized that a combination of chemotherapy (cabozantinib) and immunotherapy (Interleukin-27 (IL-27)) could treat bone-metastatic prostate cancer and also exert pro-osteogenic effects. IL-27 is a multi-functional cytokine, which promotes immune cell recruitment to tumors, while also promoting bone repair. To test this hypothesis, in vivo experiments were performed where syngeneic C57BL/6J mice were implanted intratibially with TRAMP-C2ras-Luc cells able to form tumors in bone. Immunotherapy was administered in the form of intramuscular gene therapy, delivering plasmid DNA encoding a reporter gene (Lucia), or a therapeutic gene (IL-27). Ultrasound was used to aid gene delivery. Various gene delivery methods were tested and optimized through in vivo studies, with microbubbles in combination with ultrasound (sonoporation) emerging as the best method. Following immunotherapy, the animals received either cabozantinib or a vehicle control by oral gavage. Bioluminescence imaging was used to monitor tumor size over time. Combinatorial therapy inhibited tumor growth and improved survival. Further, RNA sequencing and cytokine arrays were used to investigate the mechanisms involved. Microcomputed tomography and differentiation assays indicated that the combination therapy improved bone health by improving osteoblast differentiation and inhibiting osteoclast differentiation. Our conclusion is that a chemo-immunotherapy approach such as the one examined in this work has potential to emerge as a novel therapeutic strategy for treating bone-metastatic prostate cancer. This approach should enable a significant reduction in chemotherapy-associated toxicity, improving sensitivity to immunotherapy, and simultaneously improving bone quality.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Basic Medical Sciences

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Marxa L. Figueiredo

Additional Committee Member 2

Harm HogenEsch

Additional Committee Member 3

Russell Main

Additional Committee Member 4

Qing Deng

Additional Committee Member 5

John Turek