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Biol Proced Online. 2018 Feb 2;20:4. doi: 10.1186/s12575-018-0069-6. eCollection 2018.

Antitumor Efficacy of Human Monocyte-Derived Dendritic Cells: Comparing Effects of two Monocyte Isolation Methods.

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1CEDOC, NOVA Medical School/Faculdade de Ciências Médicas, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.
2UCIBIO, Departamento Ciências da Vida, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.
3CDG & Allies - Professionals and Patient Associations International Network (CDG & Allies - PPAIN), Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.



Dendritic cells (DCs), which can be used as anti-cancer vaccines, are generally obtained in vitro from isolated CD14+ monocytes (MoDCs). This generates high cell numbers and allows instructing DCs to guarantee effective antitumor responses. However, the impact of the monocyte isolation step in the antitumor effectiveness of the generated MoDCs is still unknown. Here, we compared the most used immunomagnetic technologies for monocyte isolation: magnetic activated cell sorting (MACS) from Miltenyi Biotec and EasySep from STEM CELL.


MACS technology allowed a higher monocyte yield and purity and, by flow cytometry, monocytes displayed higher size and lower granularity. In the resting state, EasySep_MoDCs showed a higher basal expression of HLA-DR, and no significant response to stimulation by LPS and TNF-α. When stimulated with whole tumor cells lysates, both MoDCs expressed similar levels of maturation and co-stimulatory markers. However, when cultured with autologous T cells, MACS_MoDCs induced significantly higher IFN-γ secretion than EasySep_MoDCs, indicating a stronger induction of Th1 cell response profile. Concordantly, T cells induced by MACS_MoDCs also showed a higher release of cytotoxic granules when in contact with tumor cells.


Overall, both the MACS and the EasySep isolation immunomagnetic technologies provide monocytes that differentiate into viable and functional MoDCs. In our experimental settings, resting EasySep_MoDCs showed a higher basal level of maturation but show less responsivity to stimuli. On the other hand, MACS_MoDCs, when stimulated with tumor antigens, showed better ability to stimulate Th1 responses and to induce T cell cytotoxicity against tumor cells. Thus, monocyte isolation techniques crucially affect MoDCs' function and, therefore, should be carefully selected to obtain the desired functionality.


Cancer vaccines; Immunomagnetic cell isolation; Monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MoDCs); T-cell cytotoxicity

Conflict of interest statement

This article does not contain any studies with human participants. The approval to use peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), from leuko-platelet concentrates from healthy anonymous donors, was obtained from the Portuguese Blood and Transplantation Institute (Instituto Português do Sangue e da Transplantação - IPST) (P-0114/CD/12HT/pt); after the approval from the institutional ethical committee. Permission to use the blood cell donations is obtained after informed consent from anonymous donors.Not applicableThe authors declare that they have no competing interests.Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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