Background: GLV-1h68 is an attenuated recombinant vaccinia virus (VACV) that selectively colonizes established human xenografts inducing their complete regression. Results: Here, we explored xenograft/VACV/host interactions in vivo adopting organism-specific expression arrays and tumor cell/VACV in vitro comparing VACV replication patterns. There were no clear-cut differences in vitro among responding and non-responding tumors, however, tumor rejection was associated in vivo with activation of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) and innate immune host's effector functions (IEFs) correlating with VACV colonization of the xenografts. These signatures precisely reproduce those observed in humans during immune-mediated tissue-specific destruction (TSD) that causes tumor or allograft rejection, autoimmunity or clearance of pathogens. We recently defined these common pathways in the "immunologic constant of rejection" hypothesis (ICR). Conclusion: This study provides the first prospective validation of a universal mechanism associated with TSD. Thus, xenograft infection by oncolytic VACV, beyond offering a promising therapy of established cancers, may represent a reliable pre-clinical model to test therapeutic strategies aimed at modulating the central pathways leading to TSD; this information may lead to the identification of principles that could refine the treatment of cancer and chronic infection by immune stimulation or autoimmunity and allograft rejection through immune tolerance.
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