The use of dendritic cells in cancer immunotherapy

Alessio Nencioni, Frank Grünebach, Susanne M. Schmidt, Martin R. Müller, Davide Boy, Franco Patrone, Alberto Ballestrero, Peter Brossart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Cancer immunotherapy aims at eliciting an immune response directed against tumor antigens to help fight off residual tumor cells and thereby improve survival and quality of life of cancer patients. Different immunotherapeutic approaches share the use of dendritic cells (DCs) to present tumor-associated antigens to T-lymphocytes. Ex vivo generated DCs can be loaded with antigens and re-infused to the patients, or they can be used for ex vivo expansion of antitumor lymphocytes. Alternatively, methods exist to target antigens to DCs in vivo without need for ex vivo cell manipulations. The clinical studies have shown that DC administration to patients is safe and induces antigen-specific immunity. However, it seldom elicits objective clinical responses in patients with advanced-stage malignancies. Novel insights into DC and lymphocyte regulation are expected to lead to more effective vaccines in the near future. Meanwhile, efforts are directed at identifying the most appropriate clinical targets for active specific immunotherapies. Data suggests that vaccinations may indeed be beneficial when given in the adjuvant setting rather than to treat metastatic cancers. These issues are discussed here together with an overview of the DC-based antitumor immunotherapy studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-199
Number of pages9
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


  • Cancer vaccines
  • Dendritic cells
  • Immunity
  • Tolerance
  • Tumor antigens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Hematology
  • Oncology

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    Nencioni, A., Grünebach, F., Schmidt, S. M., Müller, M. R., Boy, D., Patrone, F., Ballestrero, A., & Brossart, P. (2008). The use of dendritic cells in cancer immunotherapy. Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, 65(3), 191-199.