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Cancer Treat Rev. 2013 Dec;39(8):891-907. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2013.05.007. Epub 2013 Jun 21.

Active immunotherapy using dendritic cells in the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme.

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University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Department of Neurological Surgery, Miami, FL, USA.



Glioblastoma multiforme, the most common malignant brain tumor still has a dismal prognosis with conventional treatment. Therefore, it is necessary to explore new and/or adjuvant treatment options to improve patient outcomes. Active immunotherapy is a new area of research that may be a successful treatment option. The focus is on vaccines that consist of antigen presenting cells (APCs) loaded with tumor antigen. We have conducted a systematic review of prospective studies, case reports and clinical trials. The goal of this study was to examine the efficacy and safety in terms of complications, median overall survival (OS), progression free survival (PFS) and quality of life.


A PubMed search was performed to include all relevant studies that reported the characteristics, outcomes and complications of patients with GBM treated with active immunotherapy using dendritic cells. Reported parameters were immune response, radiological findings, median PFS and median OS. Complications were categorized based on association with the craniotomy or with the vaccine itself.


A total of 21 studies with 403 patients were included in our review. Vaccination with dendritic cells (DCs) loaded with autologous tumor cells resulted in increased median OS in patients with recurrent GBM (71.6-138.0 wks) as well as those newly diagnosed (65.0-230.4 wks) compared to average survival of 58.4 wks.


Active immunotherapy, specifically with autologous DCs loaded with autologous tumor cells, seems to have the potential of increasing median OS and prolonged tumor PFS with minimal complications. Larger clinical trials are needed to show the potential benefits of active immunotherapy.


Glioblastoma multiforme; Immunotherapy; Outcomes; Systematic analysis

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