Allogeneic dendritic cells as adjuvants in cancer immunotherapy

  • Date:
  • Location: Rudbecksalen, Rudbecklaboratoriet, Dag Hammarskjölds väg 20, Uppsala
  • Doctoral student: Fotaki, Grammatiki
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Klinisk immunologi
  • Contact person: Fotaki, Grammatiki
  • Disputation

In this work, we examined the feasibility of having an allogeneic source of vaccine-DCs (alloDCs), not for direct antigen-presentation to T cells but as an immune primer aiming to activate bystander DCs.

In recent years, immunotherapeutic approaches have achieved remarkable successes through checkpoint blockade antibodies, advances in the use of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells and new insights into the immunosuppressive role of the tumor microenvironment (TME). Through the advances, the role of cancer vaccines based on ex vivo manipulated autologous dendritic cells (DC) has been challenged. The main aim of DC-based vaccination is the induction of tumor-specific T-cell responses through presentation of tumor-associated antigens. However, this process has been found to be highly dependent on the ability of the injected vaccine-DCs to activate endogenous bystander DCs.

In this work, we examined the feasibility of having an allogeneic source of vaccine-DCs (alloDCs), not for direct antigen-presentation to T cells but as an immune primer aiming to activate bystander DCs. In paper I, we treated alloDCs with a T helper cell type 1 (Th1)-promoting maturation cocktail alone or combined with a replication-deficient, infection-enhanced adenoviral vector (Ad5M) as a potential gene delivery vehicle. We found that mature pro-inflammatory alloDCs, either non-transduced or transduced, created a cytokine- and chemokine-enriched milieu in vitro, and promoted the activation of co-cultured immune cells, including cytolytic NK cells, from unrelated donors. The emerged milieu induced the maturation of bystander DCs, which cross-presented antigens from their environment to autologous antigen-specific T cells. In paper II, we found that alloDCs promoted the migration of murine immune cells both to the site of injection and to the draining lymph node. When Ad5M was used for the delivery of the melanoma-associated antigen gp100, we found that gp100-expressing alloDCs were able to control tumor growth through gp100-specific T-cell responses and alteration of the TME. In paper III, we found that co-administration of alloDCs with an adenoviral vector encoding for HPV-antigens is effective in controlling the growth of HPV-related tumors and this may depend on a cross-talk between alloDCs and NK cells which leads to further recruitment of immune cells into the TME. In paper IV, we observed that concomitant targeting of immune checkpoint receptors or co-stimulatory molecules results in synergistic therapeutic effects in a murine colorectal model.