BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has been revealed as the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. The introduction of cell-based immunotherapy, including dendritic cells (DCs) and cytokine-induced killer cells (CIKs), has brought HCC patients an effective benefit. However, the efficacy and necessity of cellular immunotherapy after different interventional therapy remains to be further explored.
AIM: To investigate the efficacy of cellular immunotherapy, involving DCs and CIKs, combined with different conventional treatments of HCC.
METHODS: We performed a literature search on PubMed and Web of Science up to February 15, 2019. Long-term efficacy (overall survival and recurrence) and short-term adverse effects were investigated to assess the effectiveness of immunotherapy with DCs and/or CIKs. Review Manager 5.3 was used to perform the analysis.
RESULTS: A total of 22 studies involving 3756 patients selected by eligibility inclusion criteria were forwarded for meta-analysis. Combined with the conventional clinical treatment, immunotherapy with DCs and/or CIKs was demonstrated to significantly improve overall survival at 6 mo [risk ratio (RR) = 1.07; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01-1.13, = 0.02], 1 year (RR = 1.12; 95%CI: 1.07-1.17, < 0.00001), 3 years (RR = 1.23; 95%CI: 1.15-1.31, < 0.00001) and 5 years (RR = 1.26; 95%CI: 1.15-1.37, < 0.00001). Recurrence rate was significantly reduced by cellular immunotherapy at 6 mo (RR = 0.50; 95%CI: 0.36-0.69, < 0.0001) and 1 year (RR = 0.82; 95%CI: 0.75-0.89, < 0.00001). Adverse effect assessment addressed that immunotherapy with DCs and/or CIKs was accepted as a safe, feasible treatment.
CONCLUSION: Combination immunotherapy with DCs, CIKs and DC/CIK with various routine treatments for HCC was evidently suggested to improve patients‘ prognosis by increasing overall survival and reducing cancer recurrence.