Background: Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) represents one of the most immunoresponsive cancers. Antigen-specific vaccination with dendritic cells (DCs) in patients with metastatic RCC has been shown to induce cytotoxic T-cell responses associated with objective clinical responses. Thus, clinical trials utilizing DCs for immunotherapy of advanced RCCs appear to be promising; however, detailed analyses concerning the distribution and function of DC subsets in RCCs are lacking.
Methods: We characterized the distribution of the different immature and mature myeloid DC subsets in RCC tumour tissue and the corresponding normal kidney tissues. In further analyses, the expression of various chemokines and chemokine receptors controlling the migration of DC subsets was investigated.
Results: The highest numbers of immature CD1a+ DCs were found within RCC tumour tissue. In contrast, the accumulation of mature CD83+/DC-LAMP+ DCs were restricted to the invasive margin of the RCCs. The mature DCs formed clusters with proliferating T-cells. Furthermore, a close association was observed between MIP-3α-producing tumour cells and immature CCR6+ DC recruitment to the tumour bed. Conversely, MIP-3β and SLC expression was only detected at the tumour border, where CCR7-expressing T-cells and mature DCs formed clusters.
Conclusion: Increased numbers of immature DCs were observed within the tumour tissue of RCCs, whereas mature DCs were found in increased numbers at the tumour margin. Our results strongly implicate that the distribution of DC subsets is controlled by local lymphoid chemokine expression. Thus, increased expression of MIP-3α favours recruitment of immature DCs to the tumour bed, whereas de novo local expression of SLC and MIP-3β induces accumulation of mature DCs at the tumour margin forming clusters with proliferating T-cells reflecting a local anti-tumour immune response.