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Hum Gene Ther. 2014 Jan;25(1):63-72. doi: 10.1089/hum.2013.161. Epub 2013 Dec 19.

Gene therapy with beta-defensin 2 induces antitumor immunity and enhances local antitumor effects.

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Department of Thoracic Oncology, Cancer Center, State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy, West China Hospital, Sichuan University , Chengdu 610042, P.R. China .


Beta-defensins, small antimicrobial peptides, are involved in host immune responses to tumors. In this study, we used beta-defensin 2 (BD2) to explore the possible role of beta-defensins in cancer gene therapy. A recombinant plasmid expressing a secretable form of BD2 was constructed. The biological activities of BD2 in immature dendritic cells (iDCs) were tested in vitro and in vivo. The antitumor effects were investigated in three established tumor models. The secreted BD2 was detected and exhibited chemotactic activity in iDCs both in vitro and in vivo. Recruitment and activation of iDCs in tumor niches resulted in significant tumor growth inhibition. Adoptive transfer of splenocytes and depletion of immune cell subsets revealed that CD8(+) T lymphocyte responses mediated the increased tumor inhibition. Furthermore, we also found that chemotactic and maturation-inducing activities in iDCs in tumor milieu contributed to enhanced local antitumor effects. Our study indicates that gene therapy with BD2 can mediate specific antitumor immunity and augment local antitumor effects. Our study also suggested that beta-defensins may merit further exploration for cancer immunotherapy as promising immunogenes.

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