Immune impact induced by PROSTVAC (PSA-TRICOM), a therapeutic vaccine for prostate cancer

Cancer Immunol Res. 2014 Feb;2(2):133-41. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-13-0108. Epub 2013 Nov 4.


PSA-TRICOM (PROSTVAC) is a novel vector-based vaccine designed to generate a robust immune response against prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-expressing tumor cells. The purpose of this report is to present an overview of both published studies and new data in the evaluation of immune responses to the PSA-TRICOM vaccine platform, currently in phase III testing. Of 104 patients tested for T-cell responses, 57% (59/104) demonstrated a ≥ 2-fold increase in PSA-specific T cells 4 weeks after vaccine (median 5-fold increase) compared with pre-vaccine, and 68% (19/28) of patients tested mounted post-vaccine immune responses to tumor-associated antigens not present in the vaccine (antigen spreading). The PSA-specific immune responses observed 28 days after vaccine (i.e., likely memory cells) are quantitatively similar to the levels of circulating T cells specific for influenza seen in the same patients. Measurements of systemic immune response to PSA may underestimate the true therapeutic immune response (as this does not account for cells that have trafficked to the tumor) and does not include antigen spreading. Furthermore, although the entire PSA gene is the vaccine, only one epitope of PSA is evaluated in the T-cell responses. Because this therapeutic vaccine is directed at generating a cellular/Th1 immune response (T-cell costimulatory molecules and use of a viral vector), it is not surprising that less than 0.6% of patients (2/349) tested have evidence of PSA antibody induction following vaccine. This suggests that post-vaccine PSA kinetics were not affected by PSA antibodies. An ongoing phase III study will evaluate the systemic immune responses and correlation with clinical outcomes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Cancer Vaccines / adverse effects
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-5 / blood
  • Kallikreins / blood
  • Kallikreins / immunology
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Male
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / immunology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / pathology


  • Autoantibodies
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-5
  • KLK3 protein, human
  • Kallikreins
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen