Lenalidomide improves the therapeutic effect of an interferon-α-dendritic cell-based lymphoma vaccine

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The perspective of combining cancer vaccines with immunomodulatory drugs is currently regarded as a highly promising approach for boosting tumor-specific T cell immunity and eradicating residual malignant cells. The efficacy of dendritic cell (DC) vaccination in combination with lenalidomide, an anticancer drug effective in several hematologic malignancies, was investigated in a follicular lymphoma (FL) model. First, we evaluated the in vitro activity of lenalidomide in modulating the immune responses of lymphocytes co-cultured with a new DC subset differentiated with IFN-α (IFN-DC) and loaded with apoptotic lymphoma cells. We next evaluated the efficacy of lenalidomide and IFN-DC-based vaccination, either alone or in combination, in hu-PBL-NOD/SCID mice bearing established human lymphoma. We found that lenalidomide reduced Treg frequency and IL-10 production in vitro, improved the formation of immune synapses of CD8 + lymphocytes with lymphoma cells and enhanced anti-lymphoma cytotoxicity. Treatment of lymphoma-bearing mice with either IFN-DC vaccination or lenalidomide led to a significant decrease in tumor growth and lymphoma cell spread. Lenalidomide treatment was shown to substantially inhibit tumor-induced neo-angiogenesis rather than to exert a direct cytotoxic effect on lymphoma cells. Notably, the combined treatment with the vaccine plus lenalidomide was more effective than either single treatment, resulting in the significant regression of established tumors and delayed tumor regrowth upon treatment discontinuation. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that IFN-DC-based vaccination plus lenalidomide exert an additive therapeutic effect in xenochimeric mice bearing established lymphoma. These results may pave the way to evaluate this combination in the clinical ground.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1791-1804
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Immunology and Immunotherapy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines/administration & dosage
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dendritic Cells/immunology
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors/immunology
  • Interferon-alpha/immunology
  • Lenalidomide/pharmacology
  • Lymphoma, Follicular/immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, SCID


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