The exploitation of the physiologic processing and presenting machinery of dendritic cells (DCs) by in vivo loading of tumor-associated antigens may improve the immunogenic potential and clinical efficacy of DC-based cancer vaccines. The approach developed by our group was based on the clinical observation that some patients treated with the infusion of donor lymphocytes transduced to express the HSV-TK suicide gene for relapse of hematologic malignancies, after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, developed a T cell-mediated immune response specifically directed against the HSV-TK gene product.
We demonstrated that lymphocytes genetically modified to express HSV-TK as well as self/tumor antigens, acting as antigen carriers, efficiently target DCs in vivo in tumor-bearing mice. The infusion of TRP-2-transduced lymphocytes induced the establishment of protective immunity and long-term memory in tumor-bearing mice by cross-presentation of the antigen mediated by the CD11c+CD8a+ DCs subset. A similar approach was applied in a clinical setting. Ten patients affected by MAGE-3+ metastatic melanoma were treated with autologous lymphocytes retrovirally transduced to express the MAGE-3 tumor antigen. In three patients, the treatment led to the increase of MAGE-3 specific CD8+ and CD4+ effectors and the development of long-term memory, which ultimately correlated with a favorable clinical outcome. Transduced lymphocytes represent an efficient way for in vivo loading of tumor-associated antigens of DCs.
Active immunotherapy Cross-presentation Tumor antigens
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