Enhanced Human T Lymphocyte Antigen Priming by Cytokine-Matured Dendritic Cells Overexpressing Bcl-2 and IL-12

Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020 Mar 27;8:205. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2020.00205. eCollection 2020.


Dendritic cell (DC)-based vaccination is a promising immunotherapeutic strategy for cancer. However, clinical trials have shown only limited efficacy, suggesting the need to optimize protocols for human DC vaccine preparation. In this study, we systemically compared five different human DC vaccine maturation protocols used in clinical trials: (1) a four-cytokine cocktail (TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β, and PGE2); (2) an α-DC-cytokine cocktail (TNF-α, IL-1β, IFN-α, IFN-γ, and poly I:C); (3) lipopolysaccharide (LPS)/IFN-γ; (4) TNF-α and PGE2; and (5) TriMix (mRNAs encoding CD40L, CD70, and constitutively active Toll-like receptor 4 electroporated into immature DCs). We found that the four-cytokine cocktail induced high levels of costimulatory and HLA molecules, as well as CCR7, in DCs. Mature DCs (mDCs) matured with the four-cytokine cocktail had higher viability than those obtained with the other protocols. Based on these features, we chose the four-cytokine cocktail protocol to further improve the immunizing capability of DCs by introducing exogenous genes. We showed that introducing exogenous Bcl-2 increased DC survival. Furthermore, introducing IL-12p70 rescued the inhibition of IL-12 secretion by PGE2 without impairing the DC phenotype. Introducing both Bcl-2 and IL-12p70 mRNAs into DCs induced enhanced cytomegalovirus pp65-specific CD8+ T cells secreting IFN-γ and TNF-α. Taken together, our data suggest that DC matured by the four-cytokine cocktail combined with exogenous Bcl-2 and IL-12p70 gene expression represents a promising approach for clinical applications in cancer immunotherapy.

Keywords: Bcl-2; IL-12p70; T cell responses; dendritic cell; survival.