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J Immunol. 2003 Apr 1;170(7):3806-11.

Tumor-derived TGF-beta reduces the efficacy of dendritic cell/tumor fusion vaccine.

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Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0650, USA.


Dendritic cell (DC)-based antitumor vaccine is a novel cancer immunotherapy that is promising for reducing cancer-related mortality. However, results from early clinical trials were suboptimal. A possible explanation is that many tumors secrete immunosuppressive factors such as TGF-beta, which may hamper host immune response to DC vaccine. In this study, we demonstrated that TGF-beta produced by tumors significantly reduced the potency of DC/tumor fusion vaccines. TGF-beta-secreting (CT26-TGF-beta) stable mouse colon cancer cell lines were generated using a retroviral vector expressing TGF-beta. A non-TGF-beta-secreting (CT26-neo) cell line was generated using an empty retroviral vector. The efficacies of DC/tumor fusion vaccines were assessed in vitro and in vivo. DC/CT26-TGF-beta fusion cells failed to induce a strong T cell proliferative response in vitro, mainly due to the effect of TGF-beta on T cell responsiveness rather than DC stimulatory capability. Animals vaccinated with DC/CT26-TGF-beta fusion vaccine had lower tumor-specific CTL activity and had significantly lower survival after tumor challenge as compared with animals immunized with DC/CT26-neo hybrids (45 vs 77%, p < 0.05). Ex vivo exposure of DCs to TGF-beta did not appear to lessen the efficacy of DC vaccine. These data suggest that tumor-derived TGF-beta reduces the efficacy of DC/tumor fusion vaccine via an in vivo mechanism. Neutralization of TGF-beta produced by the fusion cells may enhance the effectiveness of DC-based immunotherapy.

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