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Cancer Gene Ther. 2002 Nov;9(11):875-83.

Immunosuppressive effects of interleukin-12 coexpression in melanoma antigen gene-modified dendritic cell vaccines.

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Department of Surgery, University of California at Los Angeles, 90095-1782, USA.


Genetic immunotherapy with tumor antigen gene-modified dendritic cells (DC) generates robust immunity, although antitumor protection is not complete in all models. Previous experience in a model in which C57BL/6 mice immunized with DC transduced with adenoviral vectors expressing MART-1 demonstrated a 20-40% complete protection to a tumor challenge with B16 melanoma cells. Tumors that did develop in immunized mice had slower growth kinetics compared to tumors implanted in naïve mice. In the present study, we wished to determine if the supraphysiological production of the Th1-skewing cytokine interleukin-12 (IL-12) could enhance immune activation and antitumor protection in this model. In a series of experiments immunizing mice with DC cotransduced with MART-1 and IL-12, antitumor protection and antigen-specific splenocyte cytotoxicity and interferon gamma production inversely correlated with the amount of IL-12 produced by DC. This adverse effect of IL-12 could not be explained by a direct cytotoxic effect of natural killer cells directed towards DC, nor the production of nitric oxide leading to down-regulation of the immune response - the two mechanisms previously recognized to explain immune-suppressive effects of IL-12-based vaccine therapy. In conclusion, in this animal model, IL-12 production by gene-modified DC leads to a cytokine-induced dose-dependent inhibition of antigen-specific antitumor protection.

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