Human dendritic cells: Natural adjuvants in antitumor immunotherapy

Massimo Di Nicola, Andrea Anichini, Roberta Mortarini, Marco Bregni, Giorgio Parmiani, A. Massimo Gianni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although T-cell-defined tumor antigens have recently been identified in several tumors, human neoplastic cells are considered to be poorly immunogenic. The development of clinical approaches to the immunotherapy of human tumors thus requires the identification of effective adjuvants. Dendritic cells (DC) are a specialized system of antigen-presenting cells (APC) that could be utilized as natural adjuvants to elicit antitumor immune responses. In an attempt to overcome the problem of the low frequency of mature DC in peripheral blood, several methods have been applied for the ex vivo generation of human DC by culturing mobilized CD34+ cells or monocytes with combinations of cytokines. As shown in murine models as well as in the human system, after loading with peptides or tumor lysates or infection with recombinant viral vectors, DC expressing tumor antigens are able to elicit specific antitumor T cells and to mediate tumor regression. These initial results suggest that this new approach may lead to effective antitumor responses even in heavily pretreated patients bearing advanced cancers, but further clinical trials are required to validate the efficacy of vaccination with tumor-antigen-loaded DC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-273
Number of pages9
JournalCytokines, Cellular and Molecular Therapy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998


  • Antigen-presenting cells
  • Antitumor vaccination
  • Dendritic cells
  • Gene therapy
  • Tumor antigens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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