Immunogenic apoptosis as a novel tool for anticancer vaccine development

Barbara Montico, Annunziata Nigro, Vincenzo Casolaro, Jessica Dal Col

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Immunogenic apoptosis, or more appropriately called immunogenic cell death (ICD), is a recently described form of apoptosis induced by a specific set of chemotherapeutic drugs or by physical therapeutic modalities, such as ionizing irradiation and photodynamic therapy. The peculiar characteristic of ICD is the ability to favor recognition and elimination of dying tumor cells by phagocytes in association with the release of pro-inflammatory molecules (such as cytokines and high-mobility group box-1). While in vitro and animal models pointed to ICD as one of the molecular mechanisms mediating the clinical efficacy of some anticancer agents, it is hard to clearly demonstrate its contribution in cancer patients. Clinical evidence suggests that the induction of ICD alone is possibly not sufficient to fully subvert the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. However, interesting results from recent studies contemplate the exploitation of ICD for improving the immunogenicity of cancer cells to use them as an antigen cargo in the development of dendritic cell (DC) vaccines. Herein, we discuss the effects of danger signals expressed or released by cancer cells undergoing ICD on the maturation and activation of immature and mature DC, highlighting the potential added value of ICD in adoptive immunotherapy protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Article number594
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 16 2018


  • Calreticulin
  • DAMP
  • DC-based vaccine
  • Immunogenic cell death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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