Dendritic cell-based vaccination of patients with advanced pancreatic carcinoma: results of a pilot study

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2011 Aug;60(8):1097-107. doi: 10.1007/s00262-011-1023-5. Epub 2011 May 6.


Background and aims: Dendritic cell (DC)-based vaccination can induce antitumor T cell responses in vivo. This clinical pilot study examined feasibility and outcome of DC-based tumor vaccination for patients with advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Methods: Tumor lysate of patients with pancreatic carcinoma was generated by repeated freeze-thaw cycles of surgically obtained tissue specimens. Patients were eligible for DC vaccination after recurrence of pancreatic carcinoma or in a primarily palliative situation. DC were generated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), loaded with autologous tumor lysate, stimulated with TNF-α and PGE(2) and injected intradermally. All patients received concomitant chemotherapy with gemcitabine. Disease response was the primary endpoint. Individual immunological responses to DC vaccination were analyzed by T cell-based immunoassays using pre- and post-vaccination samples of non-adherent PBMC.

Results: Twelve patients received DC vaccination and concomitant chemotherapy. One patient developed a partial remission, and two patients remained in stable disease. Median survival was 10.5 months. No severe side effects were observed. Tumor-reactive T cells could be detected prior to vaccination. DC vaccination increased the frequency of tumor-reactive cells in all patients tested; however, the degree of this increase varied. To quantify the presence of tumor-reactive T cells, stimulatory indices (SI) were calculated as the ratio of proliferation-inducing capacity of lysate-loaded versus -unloaded DC. The patient with longest overall survival of 56 months had a high SI of 6.49, indicating that the presence of a pre-vaccination antitumor T cell response might be associated with prolonged survival. Five patients survived 1 year or more.

Conclusion: DC-based vaccination can stimulate an antitumoral T cell response in patients with advanced or recurrent pancreatic carcinoma receiving concomitant gemcitabine treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism*
  • Cancer Vaccines*
  • Carcinoma / immunology
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / therapy*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism*
  • Dendritic Cells / pathology
  • Dendritic Cells / transplantation
  • Dinoprostone / immunology
  • Dinoprostone / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Dinoprostone