Dendritic cell vaccination against ovarian cancer--tipping the Treg/TH17 balance to therapeutic advantage?

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2011 Apr;11(4):441-5. doi: 10.1517/14712598.2011.554812. Epub 2011 Jan 28.


The pathology of ovarian cancer is characterized by profound immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment. Mechanisms that contribute to the immunosuppressed state include tumor infiltration by regulatory T cells (Treg), expression of B7-H1 (PDL-1), which can promote T cell anergy and apoptosis through engagement of PD-1 expressed by effector T cells, and expression of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), which can also contribute to effector T cell anergy. Expression of both B7-H1 and IDO has been associated with differentiation and recruitment of Treg, and clinical studies have shown that each of these mechanisms correlates independently with increased morbidity and mortality in patients with ovarian cancer. In a remarkable counterpoint to these observations, ovarian tumor infiltration with T(H)17 cells correlates with markedly improved clinical outcomes. In this Future Perspectives review, we argue that dendritic cell (DC) vaccination designed to drive tumor-antigen-specific T(H)17 T cell responses, combined with adjuvant treatments that abrogate immunosuppressive mechanisms operative in the tumor microenvironment, offers the potential for clinical benefit in the treatment of ovarian cancer. We also discuss pharmacological approaches to modulation of MAP kinase signaling for manipulation of the functional plasticity of DC, such that they may be directed to promote T(H)17 responses following DC vaccination.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / transplantation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism*
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Interleukin-17