BACKGROUND: DC vaccination with the use of tumor cells provides the potential to generate a polyclonal immune response to multiple known and unknown tumor Ag. Our study comparatively analyzed DC fused with tumor cells or transfected with tumor total RNA as potential cancer vaccines against hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
METHODS: Immature DC generated from PBMC of patients with HCC were fused with HepG2-GFP (HepG2 cell line transfected stably with plasmid pEGFP-C3) cells or transfected with their total RNA. Matured DC were used to stimulate autologous T cells, and the resultant Ag-specific effector T cells were analyzed by IFN-gamma ELISPOT assay.
RESULTS: DC were capable of further differentiation into mature DC after fusion with HepG2-GFP cells or transfection with HepG2-GFP cell total RNA, and were able to elicit specific T-cell responses in vitro. Both methods of Ag loading could result in stimulating CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, but with the indication that fusion loading was more efficient than RNA loading in priming the Th1 response, while RNA loading was more effective in CTL priming.
DISCUSSION: Our results indicate that DC fused with tumor cells or transfected with tumor total RNA represent promising strategies for the development of cancer vaccines for treatment of HCC. They may have potential as an adjuvant immunotherapy for patients with HCC.