Dendritic Cell Maturation With Poly(I:C)-based Versus PGE2-based Cytokine Combinations Results in Differential Functional Characteristics Relevant to Clinical Application

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In vitro maturation of dendritic cells (DCs) for cancer immunotherapy may be accomplished by cytokine cocktails containing prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). More recently, a poly(I:C)-based protocol has been proposed as a potentially superior alternative because of a strong induction of interleukin (IL)-12 secretion by resulting DCs. As optimal DC maturation represents a crucial issue for cancer vaccination trials, we performed a systematic and comprehensive comparison of both protocols with respect to important indicators of DC function. Although both methods yielded phenotypically mature DCs, transcriptional profiling revealed a substantially higher number of differentially regulated genes after poly(I:C)-based than PGE2-based maturation. Several of these are involved in immunologic processes, indicating that both DC types exhibit subtle, but distinct, molecular properties. Up-regulation of genes encoding the T-cell–attracting chemokines CXCL9, 10, and 11 in poly(I:C)-DC but not PGE2-DC was confirmed on a protein level. Although poly(I:C)-based maturation induced substantial IL-12p70 secretion, poly(I:C)-DC also secreted low levels of IL-10 and showed a significantly higher expression of functionally active indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase than PGE2-DC, which might mediate immune inhibitory functions. Nonetheless, the number of peptide-specific T cells tended to be higher after in vitro priming with poly(I:C)-DC compared with PGE2-DC. Finally, PGE2-DC displayed superior migratory abilities, which are essential for in vivo applications. In summary, we have identified previously unrecognized shared and distinct molecular features of DCs matured by 2 commonly used protocols that lead to subtle, but significant, immunologic features of the resulting cells relevant to clinical applications.

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