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Keywords:

  • Dendritic cells;
  • Tumor antigens;
  • Vaccinations

Abstract

Dendritic cells (DCs) are specialized antigen-presenting cells whose immunogenicity leads to the induction of antigen-specific immune responses. DCs can easily be generated ex vivo from peripheral blood monocytes or bone marrow/circulating hematopoietic stem cells cultured in the presence of cytokine cocktails. DCs have been used in numerous clinical trials to induce antitumor immune responses in cancer patients. The studies carried out to date have demonstrated that DCs pulsed with tumor antigens can be safely administered, and this approach produces antigen-specific immune responses. Clinical responses have been observed in a minority of patients. It is likely that either heavy medical pretreatment or the presence of large tumor burdens (or both) is among the causes that impair the benefits of vaccination. Hence, the use of DCs should be considered in earlier stages of disease such as the adjuvant setting. Prospective applications of DCs extend to their use in allogeneic adoptive immunotherapy to specifically target the graft versus tumor reaction. DCs continue to hold promise for cellular immunotherapy, and further investigation is required to determine the clinical settings in which patients will most benefit from the use of this cellular immune adjuvant.