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Front Immunol. 2018 Sep 7;9:2034. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.02034. eCollection 2018.

Autologous Dendritic Cell Therapy in Mesothelioma Patients Enhances Frequencies of Peripheral CD4 T Cells Expressing HLA-DR, PD-1, or ICOS.

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Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Department of Medical Oncology, Laboratory of Tumor Immunology, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Department of Immunology, Laboratory Medical Immunology, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, Netherlands.


Introduction: Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a malignancy with a very poor prognosis for which new treatment options are urgently needed. We have previously shown that dendritic cell (DC) immunotherapy provides a clinically feasible treatment option. In the current study, we set out to assess the immunological changes induced by DC immunotherapy in peripheral blood of MPM patients. Methods: Peripheral blood was collected from nine patients enrolled in a phase I dose escalation study, before and after treatment with DCs that were pulsed with an allogeneic tumor lysate preparation consisting of a mixture of five cultured mesothelioma cell lines. We used immune profiling by multiplex flow cytometry to characterize different populations of immune cells. In particular, we determined frequencies of T cell subsets that showed single and combinatorial expression of multiple markers that signify T cell activation, maturation and inhibition. Therapy-induced T cell reactivity was assessed in peptide/MHC multimer stainings using mesothelin as a prototypic target antigen with confirmed expression in the clinical tumor lysate preparation. T cell receptor (TCR) diversity was evaluated by TCRB gene PCR assays. Results: We observed an increase in the numbers of B cells, CD4 and CD8 T cells, but not NK cells at 6 weeks post-treatment. The increases in B and T lymphocytes were not accompanied by major changes in T cell reactivity toward mesothelin nor in TCRB diversity. Notably, we did observe enhanced proportions of CD4 T cells expressing HLA-DR, PD-1 (at 2 weeks after onset of treatment) and ICOS (6 weeks) and a CD8 T cell population expressing LAG3 (2 weeks). Discussion: DC immunotherapy using allogeneic tumor lysate resulted in enhanced frequencies of B cells and T cells in blood. We did not detect a skewed antigen-reactivity of peripheral CD8 T cells. Interestingly, frequencies of CD4 T cells expressing activation markers and PD-1 were increased. These findings indicate a systemic activation of the adaptive immune response and may guide future immune monitoring studies of DC therapies.


T lymphocytes; dendritic cell vaccination; immune monitoring; immunotherapy of cancer; inducible T-cell co-stimulator protein; mesothelioma; programmed cell death 1 receptor

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