BACKGROUND: Autologous dendritic cell (DC) vaccines can induce tumor-specific T cells, but their effect can be counteracted by immunosuppressive mechanisms. Cisplatin has shown immunomodulatory effects in vivo which may enhance efficacy of DC vaccination.
METHODS: This is a prospective, randomized, open-label phase 2 study (NCT02285413) including stage III and IV melanoma patients receiving 3 biweekly vaccinations of gp100 and tyrosinase mRNA-loaded monocyte-derived DCs with or without cisplatin. Primary objectives were to study immunogenicity and feasibility, and secondary objectives were to assess toxicity and survival.
RESULTS: Twenty-two stage III and 32 stage IV melanoma patients were analyzed. Antigen-specific CD8 T cells were found in 44% versus 67% and functional T cell responses in 28% versus 19% of skin-test infiltrating lymphocytes in patients receiving DC vaccination with and without cisplatin, respectively. Four patients stopped cisplatin because of toxicity and continued DC monotherapy. No therapy-related grade 3 or 4 adverse events occurred due to DC monotherapy. During combination therapy, one therapy-related grade 3 adverse event, decompensated heart failure due to fluid overload, occurred. The clinical outcome parameters did not clearly suggest significant differences.
CONCLUSIONS: Combination of DC vaccination and cisplatin in melanoma patients is feasible and safe, but does not seem to result in more tumor-specific T cell responses or improved clinical outcome, when compared to DC vaccination monotherapy.