Scientific publications

Effective cancer immunotherapy by natural mouse conventional type-1 dendritic cells bearing dead tumor antigen

Apr 8, 2019 | Magazine: Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer

Stefanie K Wculek, Joaquín Amores-Iniesta, Ruth Conde-Garrosa, Sofía C Khouili, Ignacio Melero, David Sancho

Background: The manipulation of dendritic cells (DCs) for cancer vaccination has not reached its full potential, despite the revolution in cancer immunotherapy. DCs are fundamental for CD8+ T cell activation, which relies on cross-presentation of exogenous antigen on MHC-I and can be fostered by immunogenic cancer cell death. Translational and clinical research has focused on in vitro-generated monocyte-derived DCs, while the vaccination efficacy of natural conventional type 1 DCs (cDC1s), which are associated with improved anti-tumor immunity and specialize on antigen cross-presentation, remains unknown.

Methods: We isolated primary spleen mouse cDC1s and established a protocol for fast ex vivo activation and antigen-loading with lysates of tumor cells that underwent immunogenic cell death by UV irradiation. Natural tumor antigen-loaded cDC1s were transferred and their potential for induction of endogenous CD8+ and CD4+ T cell responses in vivo, cancer prevention and therapy were assessed in three grafted cancer models. Further, we tested the efficacy of natural cDC1 vaccination in combination and comparison with anti-PD-1 treatment in two "wildtype" tumor models not expressing exogenous antigens.

Results: Herein, we reveal that primary mouse cDC1s ex vivo loaded with dead tumor cell-derived antigen are activated and induce strong CD8+ T cell responses from the endogenous repertoire upon adoptive transfer in vivo through tumor antigen cross-presentation. Notably, cDC1-based vaccines enhance tumor infiltration by cancer-reactive CD8+ and CD4+ T cells and halt progression of engrafted cancer models, including tumors that are refractory to anti-PD-1 treatment. Moreover, combined tumor antigen-loaded primary cDC1 and anti-PD-1 therapy had strong synergistic effects in a PD-1 checkpoint inhibition susceptible cancer model.

Conclusions: This preclinical proof-of-principle study is first to support the therapeutic efficacy of cancer immunotherapy with syngeneic dead tumor cell antigen-loaded mouse cDC1s, the equivalents of the human dendritic cell subset that correlates with beneficial prognosis of cancer patients. Our data pave the way for translation of cDC1-based cancer treatments into the clinic when isolation of natural human cDC1s becomes feasible.

CITATION  J Immunother Cancer. 2019 Apr 8;7(1):100. doi: 10.1186/s40425-019-0565-5.