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Critical Reviews™ in Immunology
IF: 1.352 5-Year IF: 3.347 SJR: 1.022 SNIP: 0.55 CiteScore™: 2.19

ISSN Print: 1040-8401
ISSN Online: 2162-6472

Critical Reviews™ in Immunology

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevImmunol.2013008033
pages 489-547

Therapeutic Dendritic Cell−Based Cancer Vaccines: The State of the Art

Marius M. Strioga
Department of Immunology, Center of Oncosurgery, Institute of Oncology, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania
Thomas Felzmann
Activartis Biotech GmbH, Vienna; Laboratory of Tumor Immunology, St. Anna Children's Cancer Research Institute, Vienna, Austria
Daniel J. Powell Jr.
Ovarian Cancer Research Center, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Valerijus Ostapenko
Sector of Breast surgery, Third Department of Oncosurgery, Center of Oncosurgery, Institute of Oncology, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania
Neringa T. Dobrovolskiene
Department of Immunology, Center of Oncosurgery, Institute of Oncology, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania; Department of Immunology, State Research Institute Center for Innovative Medicine, Vilnius, Lithuania
Miroslava Matuskova
Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, Cancer Research Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia
Jaroslav Michalek
Advanced Cell Immunotherapy Unit, Department of Pharmacology, Medical Faculty, Masaryk University, Brno; Cellthera Ltd., Brno, Czech Republic
Virgil E. J. C. Schijns
Immune Intervention, Cell Biology & Immunology group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands; Epitopoietic Research Corporation, Namur, Belgium


Dendritic cells (DCs) are the most potent professional antigen-presenting cells, capable of initiating proper adaptive immune responses. Although tumor-infiltrating DCs are able to recognize cancer cells and uptake tumor antigens, they often have impaired functions because of the immunosuppressive tumor milieu. Therefore, DCs are targeted by therapeutic means either in vivo or ex vivo to facilitate tumor antigen presentation to T cells and induce or promote efficient antitumor immune responses in cancer patients. This immunotherapeutical approach is defined as specific active tumor immunotherapy or therapeutic cancer vaccination. In this review we briefly discuss general aspects of DC biology, followed by a thorough description of the current knowledge and optimization trends of DC vaccine production ex vivo, including various approaches for the induction of proper DC maturation and efficient loading with tumor antigens. We also discuss critical clinical aspects of DC vaccine application in cancer patients, including protocols of administration (routes and regimens), individualization of tumor immunotherapy, prediction and proper evaluation of immune and clinical responses to immunotherapy, and the critical role of combining tumor immunotherapy with other cancer treatment strategies to achieve maximal therapeutic effects.

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