Bone Marrow-Derived Dendritic Cells Serve as Potent Adjuvants for Peptide-Based Antitumor Vaccines



Dendritic cells (DCs) are considered the most effective antigen-presenting cells (APCs) for primary immune responses. Since presentation of antigens to the immune system by appropriate professional APCs is critical to elicit a strong immune reaction and DCs seem to be quantitatively and functionally defective in the tumor host, DCs hold great promise to improve cancer vaccines. Even though they are found in lymphoid organs, skin and mucosa, the difficulty of generating large numbers of DCs has been a major limitation for their use in vaccine studies. A simple method for obtaining DCs from mouse bone marrow cells cultured in the presence of GM-CSF + interleukin 4 is now available. In four different tumor models, mice injected with DCs grown in GM-CSF plus interleukin 4 and prepulsed with a cytotoxic T lymphocyte-recognized tumor peptide epitope developed a specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte response and were protected against a subsequent tumor challenge with tumor cells expressing the relevant tumor antigen. Moreover, treatment of day 5-14 tumors with peptide-pulsed DCs resulted in sustained tumor regression in five different tumor models. These results suggest that presentation of tumor antigens to the immune system by professional APCs is a promising method to circumvent tumor-mediated immunosuppression and is the basis for ongoing clinical trials of cancer immunotherapy with tumor peptide-pulsed DCs.