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Int J Oncol. 2012 Nov;41(5):1601-9. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2012.1626. Epub 2012 Sep 11.

Phase I/II study of immunotherapy using tumor antigen-pulsed dendritic cells in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology and Metabology, Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine, To-on, Ehime 791‑0925, Japan.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are increasingly used as adjuvants for vaccination strategies; however, there has been very little development in DC vaccines for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this study, we assessed the safety, feasibility and efficacy of a multiple tumor-associated antigen (TAA)-pulsed DC vaccine in 5 patients with advanced HCC. DCs were generated by culturing blood monocytes in the presence of granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor and interleukin-4 for 5 days. The DC vaccine was prepared by pulsing DCs with cytoplasmic transduction peptide-attached α-fetoprotein, glypican-3 and MAGE-1 recombinant fusion proteins and cultivating them in the presence of maturation cocktail. DCs were injected subcutaneously near the inguinal lymph nodes, followed by topical application of toll-like receptor-7 agonist around the injection site. We showed that our DC vaccine was safe and well-tolerated over 6 vaccinations in 5 patients. All 5 patients showed T cell responses against TAAs. Clinical benefit was observed in one of the 5 patients. In conclusion, the feasibility, safety and immune activity of DCs pulsed with TAAs were confirmed in HCC patients. However, clinical response was detected only in one patient. Future trials may consider applying this therapy in a less advanced stage to obtain better clinical responses.

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