Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a fatal human cancer in part because GBM stem cells are resistant to therapy and recurrence is inevitable. Previously, we demonstrated Zika virus (ZIKV) targets GBM stem cells and prevents death of mice with gliomas. Here, we evaluated the immunological basis of ZIKV-mediated protection against GBM. Introduction of ZIKV into the brain tumor increases recruitment of CD8+ T and myeloid cells to the tumor microenvironment. CD8+ T cells are required for ZIKV-dependent tumor clearance, as survival benefits are lost with CD8+ T cell depletion. Moreover, while anti-PD1 antibody therapy alone moderately improves tumor survival, when co-administered with ZIKV, survival increases. ZIKV-mediated tumor clearance also results in durable protection against syngeneic tumor re-challenge, which also depends on CD8+ T cells. To address safety concerns, we generated an immune-sensitized ZIKV strain, which is effective alone or in combination with immunotherapy. Thus, oncolytic ZIKV treatment can be leveraged by immunotherapies, which may prompt combination treatment paradigms for adult GBM patients.

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PubMed