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Cytotherapy. 2016 Apr;18(4):570-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2016.01.005.

Dendritic-tumor cell hybrids induce tumor-specific immune responses more effectively than the simple mixture of dendritic and tumor cells.

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Department of Immunology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Rebirth Excellence Cluster and Department of Hematology, Hemostasis, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.
Department of Immunology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Cell and Molecular Therapy Center, NUCEL-NETCEM, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Electronic address:



Dendritic cell (DC)-tumor cell hybrids have been used clinically in cancer immunotherapy, but their advantage over the simple mixture of tumor cells and DCs is still a matter of controversy. In this study, we compared DC-tumor cell hybrids with the non-fused mixture of DC and tumor cells directly in their ability to induce a specific immune response.


Hybrids were obtained by electrofusion of tumor cells and monocyte-derived DCs. Cell phenotype was evaluated by flow cytometry and antigen-presenting ability by co-culture with syngeneic T cells followed by tetramer analysis and interferon (IFN)-γ ELISPOT.


Less than half the cells in the mixture expressed DC co-stimulatory molecules. Furthermore, DCs in the mixture had significantly lower expression of MHC class I molecules than DCs in the fusion. Conversely, nearly all CD11c(+)Her2/neu(+) hybrids expressed CD80, CD86, CD83, HLA-DR and MHC class I from both tumor cells and DCs. Using tumor cells constitutively expressing a cytomegalovirus (CMV) antigen, we show that expansion of CMV-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) restricted by DCs' MHC class I molecules was higher when DC-tumor hybrids were the stimulators. Furthermore, only hybrids stimulated CTLs to produce IFN-γ in response to CMV-positive target cells.


These data show the superiority of DC-tumor cell hybrids over their simple mixture as T-cell stimulators. Hybrids expressed more co-stimulatory and MHC molecules, induced higher antigen-specific T-cell expansion and were the only cells able to induce IFN-γ-producing antigen-specific T cells. Thus, these data offer further support for cancer immunotherapeutic approaches using DC-tumor cell hybrids.


cancer vaccines; cell fusion; dendritic cells; hybrid cells; immunotherapy

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