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Front Immunol. 2013 Dec 11;4:438. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2013.00438.

Immature, Semi-Mature, and Fully Mature Dendritic Cells: Toward a DC-Cancer Cells Interface That Augments Anticancer Immunity.

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Laboratory of Cell Death Research and Therapy, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, KU Leuven , Leuven , Belgium.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are the sentinel antigen-presenting cells of the immune system; such that their productive interface with the dying cancer cells is crucial for proper communication of the "non-self" status of cancer cells to the adaptive immune system. Efficiency and the ultimate success of such a communication hinges upon the maturation status of the DCs, attained following their interaction with cancer cells. Immature DCs facilitate tolerance toward cancer cells (observed for many apoptotic inducers) while fully mature DCs can strongly promote anticancer immunity if they secrete the correct combinations of cytokines [observed when DCs interact with cancer cells undergoing immunogenic cell death (ICD)]. However, an intermediate population of DC maturation, called semi-mature DCs exists, which can potentiate either tolerogenicity or pro-tumorigenic responses (as happens in the case of certain chemotherapeutics and agents exerting ambivalent immune reactions). Specific combinations of DC phenotypic markers, DC-derived cytokines/chemokines, dying cancer cell-derived danger signals, and other less characterized entities (e.g., exosomes) can define the nature and evolution of the DC maturation state. In the present review, we discuss these different maturation states of DCs, how they might be attained and which anticancer agents or cell death modalities (e.g., tolerogenic cell death vs. ICD) may regulate these states.


antigen; cancer; cell death; chemotherapy; cytokine; immunogenic cell death; immunosurveillance; phenotypic DC maturation

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