Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields), an approved therapy for glioblastoma (GBM) and malignant mesothelioma, employ noninvasive application of low-intensity, intermediate-frequency, alternating electric fields to disrupt the mitotic spindle, leading to chromosome missegregation and apoptosis. Emerging evidence suggests that TTFields may also induce inflammation. However, the mechanism underlying this property and whether it can be harnessed therapeutically are unclear. Here, we report that TTFields induced focal disruption of the nuclear envelope, leading to cytosolic release of large micronuclei clusters that intensely recruited and activated 2 major DNA sensors — cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) and absent in melanoma 2 (AIM2) — and their cognate cGAS/stimulator of interferon genes (STING) and AIM2/caspase 1 inflammasomes to produce proinflammatory cytokines, type 1 interferons (T1IFNs), and T1IFN-responsive genes. In syngeneic murine GBM models, TTFields-treated GBM cells induced antitumor memory immunity and a cure rate of 42% to 66% in a STING- and AIM2-dependent manner. Using single-cell and bulk RNA sequencing of peripheral blood mononuclear cells, we detected robust post-TTFields activation of adaptive immunity in patients with GBM via a T1IFN-based trajectory and identified a gene panel signature of TTFields effects on T cell activation and clonal expansion. Collectively, these studies defined a therapeutic strategy using TTFields as cancer immunotherapy in GBM and potentially other solid tumors.
Dongjiang Chen, Son B. Le, Tarun E. Hutchinson, Anda-Alexandra Calinescu, Mathew Sebastian, Dan Jin, Tianyi Liu, Ashley Ghiaseddin, Maryam Rahman, David D. Tran