OBJECTIVE: To investigate clinical effects of dendritic cells (DCs) pulsed with autologous hepatoma cell lysates on postoperative recurrence and metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
METHODS: DCs isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of HCC patients were cultured and propagated in vitro using rhGM-CSF and rhIL-4, and then were pulsed with autologous hepatoma cell lysates. Thirty postoperative patients with HCC were randomly divided into two groups. Fifteen cases were treated with DC vaccine; fifteen cases received chemotherapy only as a control group. Immune function, clinical effects, hepatic tumor recurrence rate and the survival rate of patients of the two groups were observed and compared.
RESULTS: The levels of CD3+, CD4+/CD8+ and NK cells in the DC vaccine group were significantly increased after vaccination, while those of the control group had no significant changes. The concentration of IL-10 in the DC vaccine group was significantly decreased after the vaccination (P < 0.05). The hepatic tumor recurrence rate at 18 months in the DC vaccine group was 13.33%, compared with 53.33% in the control group (P < 0.05). The survival rate in the former was 93.33%, compared with that of 60% in the later (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Hepatoma cell lysates pulsed DC vaccine may improve the immune function of the postoperative HCC patients and play an important role in prevention of postoperative recurrence and metastasis of HCC, which would provide an innovative approach for the immunotherapy of HCC.