Dendritic cells (DCs) are essential for the induction of adaptive immune responses against malignant cells by virtue of their capacity to effectively cross-present exogenous antigens to T lymphocytes. Dying cancer cells are indeed a rich source of antigens that may be harnessed for the development of DC-based vaccines. In particular, malignant cells succumbing to apoptosis, rather than necrosis, appear to release antigens in a manner that allows for the elicitation of adaptive immune responses. In this review, we describe the processes that mediate the cross-presentation of antigens released by apoptotic cancer cells to CD8+ T lymphocytes, resulting in the activation of protective tumor-specific immune responses.
Keywords: DAMPs; apoptotic; cross-presentation; dendritic cells; necrotic; storage compartments; type 1 interferon.