High-frequency irreversible electroporation is an effective tumor ablation strategy that induces immunologic cell death and promotes systemic anti-tumor immunity


Background: Despite promising treatments for breast cancer, mortality rates remain high and treatments for metastatic disease are limited. High-frequency irreversible electroporation (H-FIRE) is a novel tumor ablation technique that utilizes high-frequency bipolar electric pulses to destabilize cancer cell membranes and induce cell death. However, there is currently a paucity of data pertaining to immune system activation following H-FIRE and other electroporation based tumor ablation techniques. Methods: Here, we utilized the mouse 4T1 mammary tumor model to evaluate H-FIRE treatment parameters on cancer progression and immune system activation in vitro and in vivo. Findings: H-FIRE effectively ablates the primary tumor and induces a pro-inflammatory shift in the tumor microenvironment. We further show that local treatment with H-FIRE significantly reduces 4T1 metastases. H-FIRE kills 4T1 cells through non-thermal mechanisms associated with necrosis and pyroptosis resulting in damage associated molecular pattern signaling in vitro and in vivo. Our data indicate that the level of tumor ablation correlates with increased activation of cellular immunity. Likewise, we show that the decrease in metastatic lesions is dependent on the intact immune system and H-FIRE generates 4T1 neoantigens that engage the adaptive immune system to significantly attenuate tumor progression. Interpretation: Cell death and tumor ablation following H-FIRE treatment activates the local innate immune system, which shifts the tumor microenvironment from an anti-inflammatory state to a pro-inflammatory state. The non-thermal damage to the cancer cells and increased innate immune system stimulation improves antigen presentation, resulting in the engagement of the adaptive immune system and improved systemic anti-tumor immunity. (C) 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.



IRE, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Tumor microenvironment, Pyroptosis