Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Microbiology & Immunology

First Advisor

Masoud Manjili


When breast tumor cells encounter stress due to cancer therapies, they may enter a dormant state, escaping from treatment-induced apoptosis. Dormant cells may eventually regain proliferative capabilities and cause recurrent metastatic disease, which is the leading cause of mortality in breast cancer patients. We sought to determine if a high dose of radiation therapy (RT) or combined chemo-immunotherapy, with and without the blockade of autophagy by chloroquine (CQ), could overcome treatment-induced tumor dormancy or relapse. We found that autophagy contributes in part to treatment-induced tumor dormancy. We also found that three therapeutic strategies were successful in inhibiting or preventing tumor relapse. These include: 18Gy/day RT, chemotherapy combined with the blockade of autophagy, and combined chemo-immunotherapy. Follow-up studies are needed to determine the feasibility of preventing tumor relapse by prolonging tumor dormancy versus eliminating dormant tumor cells.


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