Research Papers:

Improvement of DC vaccine with ALA-PDT induced immunogenic apoptotic cells for skin squamous cell carcinoma

Jie Ji, Zhixia Fan, Feifan Zhou, Xiaojie Wang, Lei Shi, Haiyan Zhang, Peiru Wang, Degang Yang, Linglin Zhang, Wei R. Chen and Xiuli Wang _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:17135-17146. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3529

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Jie Ji1,*, Zhixia Fan1,*, Feifan Zhou2, Xiaojie Wang1, Lei Shi1, Haiyan Zhang1, Peiru Wang1, Degang Yang1, Linglin Zhang1, Wei R. Chen2,1, Xiuli Wang1

1Department of Photomedicine, Shanghai Skin Disease Hospital, Shanghai 200443, China

2Biophotonics Research Laboratory, Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Education and Research, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, OK 73034, USA

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Xiuli Wang, e-mail: [email protected]

Wei R. Chen, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: dendritic cell, photodynamic therapy, immunogenic apoptosis, 5-aminolevulinic acid, PDT-DC vaccine

Received: January 28, 2015     Accepted: April 08, 2015     Published: April 20, 2015


Dendritic cell (DC) based vaccines have emerged as a promising immunotherapy for cancers. However, most DC vaccines so far have achieved only limited success in cancer treatment. Photodynamic therapy (PDT), an established cancer treatment strategy, can cause immunogenic apoptosis to induce an effective antitumor immune response. In this study, we developed a DC-based cancer vaccine using immunogenic apoptotic tumor cells induced by 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) mediated PDT. The maturation of DCs induced by PDT-treated apoptotic cells was evaluated using electron microscopy, FACS, and ELISA. The anti-tumor immunity of ALA-PDT-DC vaccine was tested with a mouse model. We observed the maturations of DCs potentiated by ALA-PDT treated tumor cells, including morphology maturation (enlargement of dendrites and increase of lysosomes), phenotypic maturation (upregulation of surface expression of MHC-II, DC80, and CD86), and functional maturation (enhanced capability to secrete IFN-γ and IL-12, and to induce T cell proliferation). Most interestingly, PDT-induced apoptotic tumor cells are more capable of potentiating maturation of DCs than PDT-treated or freeze/thaw treated necrotic tumor cells. ALA-PDT-DC vaccine mediated by apoptotic cells provided protection against tumors in mice, far stronger than that of DC vaccine obtained from freeze/thaw treated tumor cells. Our results indicate that immunogenic apoptotic tumor cells can be more effective in enhancing a DC-based cancer vaccine, which could improve the clinical application of PDT-DC vaccines.

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