Transduction of dendritic cells (DCs) with genes encoding tumor-associated antigen or with other genes that enhance immune reaction has been theorized to be potentially useful for enhancing the efficiency of DC-based immunotherapy. However, gene transduction of DCs generated from human peripheral blood monocytes has been of limited use because of the low efficiency. Here, we report that the efficiency of in vitro adenovirus-mediated gene transduction into human monocyte-derived DCs can be dramatically enhanced by centrifugation. The best conditions for centrifugal gene transduction were determined to be as follows: 2000 x g at 37 degrees C for 2 hr at a multiplicity of infection (MOI) of 10 or greater. By this centrifugal method, approximately 88 and 70% of DCs were gene transducible at an MOI of 50 and 10, respectively. Functional analysis showed that DCs transduced with human interleukin 12 (IL-12)-expressing adenoviral vector under the optimal conditions of centrifugation stably produced IL-12 protein at high levels (8.1 ng/10(6) cells/48 hr). IL-12 gene-modified DCs (DC/IL-12) displayed a more mature phenotype than nontransduced DCs, as judged by decreased expression of CD1a and increased expression of CD83, B7.1 (CD80), B7.2 (CD86), and MHC class I and II molecules. DC/IL-12 showed a high phagocytic ability similar to nontransduced DCs and were significantly superior to control DCs in the stimulation of autologous and allogeneic T lymphocyte responses. The centrifugal transduction method with adenoviral vector might be useful for efficient generation of gene-modified DCs because it is very simple, highly efficient, reproducible, and not cytopathic. IL-12 gene-modified human DCs may be therapeutically useful as a good adjuvant in DC-based immunotherapy.