Dendritic cell immunotherapy combined with gemcitabine chemotherapy enhances survival in a murine model of pancreatic carcinoma

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2013 Jun;62(6):1083-91. doi: 10.1007/s00262-013-1407-9. Epub 2013 Apr 19.


Pancreatic cancer is an extremely aggressive malignancy with a dismal prognosis. Cancer patients and tumor-bearing mice have multiple immunoregulatory subsets including regulatory T cells (Tregs) and myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) that may limit the effectiveness of anti-tumor immunotherapies for pancreatic cancer. It is possible that modulating these subsets will enhance anti-tumor immunity. The goal of this study was to explore depletion of immunoregulatory cells to enhance dendritic cell (DC)-based cancer immunotherapy in a murine model of pancreatic cancer. Flow cytometry results showed an increase in both Tregs and MDSC in untreated pancreatic cancer-bearing mice compared with control. Elimination of Tregs alone or in combination with DC-based vaccination had no effect on pancreatic tumor growth or survival. Gemcitabine (Gem) is a chemotherapeutic drug routinely used for the treatment for pancreatic cancer patients. Treatment with Gem led to a significant decrease in MDSC percentages in the spleens of tumor-bearing mice, but did not enhance overall survival. However, combination therapy with DC vaccination followed by Gem treatment led to a significant delay in tumor growth and improved survival in pancreatic cancer-bearing mice. Increased MDSC were measured in the peripheral blood of patients with pancreatic cancer. Treatment with Gem also led to a decrease of this population in pancreatic cancer patients, suggesting that combination therapy with DC-based cancer vaccination and Gem may lead to improved treatments for patients with pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / immunology
  • Carcinoma / mortality*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / therapy*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dendritic Cells* / immunology
  • Deoxycytidine / administration & dosage
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive*
  • Mice
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism
  • Tumor Burden / drug effects
  • Tumor Burden / immunology


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Deoxycytidine
  • gemcitabine