Dendritic cell based vaccines: progress in immunotherapy studies for prostate cancer

J Urol. 2004 Dec;172(6 Pt 2):2532-8. doi: 10.1097/01.ju.0000144211.51111.e4.


Purpose: No effective treatment is currently available for metastatic prostate cancer. Dendritic cell (DC) based cancer vaccine research has emerged from the laboratories to human clinical trials. We describe progress in the development of DC based prostate cancer vaccine.

Materials and methods: The literature was reviewed for major contributions to a growing number of studies that demonstrate the potential of DC based immunotherapeutics for prostate cancer. Background topics relating to DC based immunotherapy theory and practice are also addressed.

Results: DCs have been recognized as the most efficient antigen presenting cells that have the capacity to initiate naive T cell response in vitro and in vivo. During their differentiation and maturation pathways, dendritic cells can efficiently capture, process and present antigens for T cell activation. These characteristics make DC an attractive choice as the cellular adjuvant for cancer vaccines. Advances in DC generation, loading, and maturation methodologies have made it possible to generate clinical grade vaccines for various human trials. More than 100 DC vaccine trials, including 7 studies of patients with advanced prostate cancer have been reported to date. These vaccines were generally well tolerated with no significant adverse toxicity reported. Clinical responders have been identified in these studies.

Conclusions: The new prospects opened by DC based vaccines for prostate cancer are fascinating. When compared to conventional treatments, DC vaccinations have few side effects. Improvements in patient selection, vaccine delivery strategies, immune monitoring and vaccine manufacturing will be crucial in moving DC based prostate cancer vaccines closer to the clinics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Catalytic Domain / physiology
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic / physiology
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells* / physiology
  • Genes, MHC Class I / physiology
  • Genes, MHC Class II / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Lymphocyte Activation / physiology
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / physiology
  • Telomerase / metabolism


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Telomerase