Cancer immunology, immunotherapy : CII

siRNA silencing of PD-1 ligands on dendritic cell vaccines boosts the expansion of minor histocompatibility antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells in NOD/SCID/IL2Rg(null) mice.

PMID 25724840


Allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT) can be a curative therapy for patients suffering from hematological malignancies. The therapeutic efficacy is based on donor-derived CD8(+) T cells that recognize minor histocompatibility antigens (MiHAs) expressed by patient's tumor cells. However, these responses are not always sufficient, and persistence and recurrence of the malignant disease are often observed. Therefore, application of additive therapy targeting hematopoietic-restricted MiHAs is essential. Adoptive transfer of MiHA-specific CD8(+) T cells in combination with dendritic cell (DC) vaccination could be a promising strategy. Though effects of DC vaccination in anti-cancer therapy have been demonstrated, improvement in DC vaccination therapy is needed, as clinical responses are limited. In this study, we investigated the potency of program death ligand (PD-L) 1 and 2 silenced DC vaccines for ex vivo priming and in vivo boosting of MiHA-specific CD8(+) T cell responses. Co-culturing CD8(+) T cells with MiHA-loaded DCs resulted in priming and expansion of functional MiHA-specific CD8(+) T cells from the naive repertoire, which was augmented upon silencing of PD-L1 and PD-L2. Furthermore, DC vaccination supported and expanded adoptively transferred antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells in vivo. Importantly, the use of PD-L silenced DCs improved boosting and further expansion of ex vivo primed MiHA-specific CD8(+) T cells in immunodeficient mice. In conclusion, adoptive transfer of ex vivo primed MiHA-specific CD8(+) T cells in combination with PD-L silenced DC vaccination, targeting MiHAs restricted to the hematopoietic system, is an interesting approach to boost GVT immunity in allo-SCT patients and thereby prevent relapse.