Dendritic cell-tumor cell hybrids and immunotherapy: what's next?

Cytotherapy. 2011 Aug;13(7):774-85. doi: 10.3109/14653249.2011.553593. Epub 2011 Feb 7.


Dendritic cells (DC) are professional antigen-presenting cells currently being used as a cellular adjuvant in cancer immunotherapy strategies. Unfortunately, DC-based vaccines have not demonstrated spectacular clinical results. DC loading with tumor antigens and DC differentiation and activation still require optimization. An alternative technique for providing antigens to DC consists of the direct fusion of dendritic cells with tumor cells. These resulting hybrid cells may express both major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and II molecules associated with tumor antigens and the appropriate co-stimulatory molecules required for T-cell activation. Initially tested in animal models, this approach has now been evaluated in clinical trials, although with limited success. We summarize and discuss the results from the animal studies and first clinical trials. We also present a new approach to inducing hybrid formation by expression of viral fusogenic membrane glycoproteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hybrid Cells
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Immunotherapy / trends
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Membrane Glycoproteins