The mainstay of cancer treatment remains surgery, radiotherapy, and cytotoxic chemotherapy, which are associated with significant side effects. Cancer immunotherapy, the manipulation of the immune system to eliminate tumor cells, has been considered for several decades as an alternative to these therapies. Among immunotherapeutic modalities, the perspective of using dendritic cell vaccines to stimulate antitumor immunity has shown some promises but also limitations. Dendritic cells are the most potent antigen-presenting cells of the immune system, playing a pivotal role in the initiation and regulation of tumor-specific immune responses as they are endowed with the unique ability to take up, process, and present tumor antigens to CD4+ or CD8+ T lymphocytes. Dendritic cells also contribute to the activation of natural killer cells and to the orchestration of humoral immunity. This unique capability has been widely exploited in cancer vaccination approaches against a variety of malignancies. However, tumors commonly develop so-called immune escape mechanisms including the secretion of immunosuppressive -molecules and/or the promotion of immunosuppressive cells such as regulatory T cells that impair dendritic cell functions and therefore compromise the success of dendritic cell vaccination. Specific radio- or chemoimmunotherapeutic manipulations can blunt tolerogenic cells and revert the cancer-induced immunosuppressive environment into a pro-inflammatory context that can enhance dendritic cell capability to effectively prime and sustain antitumor immune responses.
- Antigen-presenting cells
- Dendritic cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)