A novel dendritic cell-based immunization approach for the induction of durable Th1-polarized anti-HER-2/neu responses in women with early breast cancer

J Immunother. 2012 Jan;35(1):54-65. doi: 10.1097/CJI.0b013e318235f512.


Twenty-seven patients with HER-2/neu overexpressing ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast were enrolled in a neoadjuvant immunization trial for safety and immunogenicity of DC1-polarized dendritic cells (DC1) pulsed with 6 HER-2/neu promiscuous major histocompatibility complex class II-binding peptides and 2 additional human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A2.1 class I-binding peptides. DC1 were generated with interferon-γ and a special clinical-grade bacterial endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide) and administered directly into groin lymph nodes 4 times at weekly intervals before scheduled surgical resection of ductal carcinoma in situ. Patients were monitored for the induction of new or enhanced antipeptide reactivity by interferon-γ ELISPOT and enzyme-linked immunosorbentassays performed on Th cells obtained from peripheral blood or excised sentinel lymph nodes. Responses by cytotoxic T lymphocyte against HLA-A2.1-binding peptides were measured using peptide-pulsed T2 target cells or HER-2/neu-expressing or nonexpressing tumor cell lines. DC1 showed surface phenotype indistinct from "gold standard" inflammatory cocktail-activated DC, but displayed a number of distinguishing functional characteristics including the secretion of soluble factors and enhanced "killer DC" capacity against tumor cells in vitro. Postimmunization, we observed sensitization of Th cells to at least 1 class II peptide in 22 of 25 (88%; 95% exact confidence interval, 68.8%-97.5%) evaluable patients, whereas 11 of 13 (84.6%; 95% exact confidence interval, 64%-99.8%) HLA-A2.1 patients were successfully sensitized to class I peptides. Perhaps most importantly, anti-HER-2/neu peptide responses were observed up to 52-month postimmunization. These data show that even in the presence of early breast cancer such DC1 are potent inducers of durable type I-polarized immunity, suggesting potential clinical value for development of cancer immunotherapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal / therapy*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / methods*
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Interferon-gamma
  • ERBB2 protein, human
  • Receptor, ErbB-2