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Mol Ther. 2008 Mar;16(3):607-17. doi: 10.1038/ Epub 2008 Jan 8.

Tumor protection following vaccination with low doses of lentivirally transduced DCs expressing the self-antigen erbB2.

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  • 1Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario,Canada.


Gene therapy strategies may accelerate the development of prophylactic immunotherapy against cancer. We synthesized a lentiviral (LV) vector encoding a kinase-deficient form of erbB2 (erbB2tr) to transduce murine dendritic cells (DCs) efficiently. Murine erbB2 models a clinically relevant tumor-associated self-antigen; its human homolog (HER-2/neu) is overexpressed in breast cancer and in 80% of metastatic prostate cancers. Following one infection, approximately 47% of DCs overexpressed erbB2tr. To determine whether low doses of transduced DCs could protect mice from prostate cancer cells, we performed prime/boost vaccinations with 2 x 10(3) or 2 x 10(5) erbB2tr-transduced DCs. Six weeks after vaccination, mice were simultaneously bilaterally challenged with the aggressive RM-1 prostate cancer cell line and an erbB2tr-expressing variant (RM-1-erbB2tr). Whereas control mice developed both tumors, all recipients of 2 x 10(5) erbB2tr-transduced DCs developed only wild-type RM-1 tumors. One-third of mice vaccinated with just 2 x 10(3) erbB2tr-transduced DCs also demonstrated erbB2tr-specific tumor protection. Protection against RM-1-erbB2tr tumors was associated with sustained levels of anti-erbB2tr antibody production and also correlated with erbB2tr-specific Th1 cytokine secretion. Depletion of CD4(+), CD8(+), or natural killer (NK) cells prior to tumor challenge underscored their role in mediating tumor protection. We conclude that administration of DCs expressing a self-antigen through efficient LV-based gene transfer activates cellular and humoral immunity, protecting host animals against specific tumor challenge.

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