Increased prevalence of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) in the tumor microenvironment (TME) predicts positive outcomes in patients with epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), whereas the regulatory T cells (Treg) predict poor outcomes. Guided by the synergistic activity of TLR3 ligands, IFNα, and COX-2 blockers in selectively enhancing CTL-attractants but suppressing Treg-attractants, we tested a novel intraperitoneal chemoimmunotherapy combination (CITC), to assess its tolerability and TME-modulatory impact in patients with recurrent EOC.

Patients and Methods:

Twelve patients were enrolled in phase I portion of the trial NCT02432378, and treated with intraperitoneal cisplatin, intraperitoneal rintatolimod (dsRNA, TLR3 ligand), and oral celecoxib (COX-2 blocker). Patients in cohorts 2, 3, and 4 also received intraperitoneal IFNα at 2, 6, and 18 million units (MU), respectively. Primary objectives were to evaluate safety, identify phase 2 recommended dose (P2RD), and characterize changes in the immune TME. Peritoneal resident cells and intraperitoneal wash fluid were profiled via NanoString and Meso Scale Discovery (MSD) multiplex assay, respectively.


The P2RD of IFNα was 6 MU. Median progression-free survival and overall survival were 8.4 and 30 months, respectively. Longitudinal sampling of the peritoneal cavity via intraperitoneal washes demonstrated local upregulation of IFN-stimulated genes (ISG), including CTL-attracting chemokines (CXCL-9, -10, -11), MHC I/II, perforin, and granzymes. These changes were present 2 days after chemokine modulation and subsided within 1 week.


The chemokine-modulating intraperitoneal-CITC is safe, tolerable, and associated with ISG changes that favor CTL chemoattraction and function. This combination (plus DC vaccine) will be tested in a phase II trial.

See related commentary by Aranda et al., p. 1993

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