Genetically Modified Dendritic Cells in Cancer Immunotherapy: A Better Tomorrow?

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2010 Nov;10(11):1539-53. doi: 10.1517/14712598.2010.526105.


Importance of the field: Dendritic cells (DC) are powerful antigen-presenting cells that induce and maintain primary cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses directed against tumor antigens. Consequently, there has been much interest in their application as antitumor vaccines.

Areas covered in this review: A large number of DC-based vaccine trials targeting a variety of cancers have been conducted; however, the rate of reported clinically significant responses remains low. Modification of DC to express tumor antigens or immunostimulatory molecules through the transfer of genes or mRNA transfection offers a logical alternative with potential advantages over peptide- or protein antigen-loaded DC. In this article, we review the current results and future prospects for genetically modified DC vaccines for the treatment of cancer.

What the reader will gain: Genetically-modified dendritic cell-based vaccines represent a powerful tool for cancer therapy. Numerous preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated the potential of dendritic cell vaccines alone or in combination with other therapeutic modalities.

Take home message: Genetically modified DC-based anti-cancer vaccination holds promise, perhaps being best employed in the adjuvant setting with minimal residual disease after primary therapy, or in combination with other antitumor or immune-enhancing therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / administration & dosage
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cytokines / administration & dosage
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • DNA, Recombinant / administration & dosage
  • DNA, Recombinant / genetics
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / transplantation*
  • Female
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / immunology
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Messenger / administration & dosage
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / immunology
  • RNA, Neoplasm / administration & dosage
  • RNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • RNA, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vaccination


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Cytokines
  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Neoplasm