The effect of immunization with killed tumor cells, with/without feeding of Echinacea purpurea in an erythroleukemic mouse model.
J Altern Complement Med. 2002 Feb;8(1):49-58. PMID: 11890433
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
OBJECTIVE: Tumor amelioration via vaccination/immunization is a practice for which considerable experimental and clinical support is growing. Combination therapies have proven to be more beneficial than treatment with single agents. We hypothesized that immunization of mice with killed erythroleukemia cells prior to the induction of erythroleukemia via injection of viable tumor cells, plus dietary administration of a known immuno-enhancing phytocompound, Echinacea purpurea, would be more effective than immunization alone.
DESIGN: A commercially available extract of E. purpurea root, already proven as a natural killer (NK) cell stimulant, was administered via the chow, for periods of 9 days or 3 months after the onset of leukemia to mice which had been injected (immunized) 5 weeks earlier with killed leukemia cells.
RESULTS: Immunized mice (+/- E. purpurea) had significantly prolonged life spans versus non-immunized mice, with an even greater proportion of hosts surviving long-term in the E. purpurea-fed group. NK cells, the mediators of nonspecific immunity and well-demonstrated mediators of tumor cytolysis, were very significantly elevated in immunized, leukemic mice receiving E. purpurea in their diet versus those receiving untreated chow. Early in tumor development (9 days), cells mediating specific immunity (T, B lymphocytes) were 10-12 times higher in absolute numbers in the spleens in all immunized, leukemic mice vs unimmunized, leukemic mice at the same stage of tumor progression.
CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate that combination therapy, involving specific tumor cell immunization, followed by daily phytotherapy (dietary E. purpurea), sensitized the immune cells and led to life span prolongation greater than that provided by immunization alone.