OBJECTIVE: Dendritic cells (DCs) are administered as immunotherapeutic adjuvants after the completion of standard treatment in most settings. However, our Phase I trial indicated that one patient out of four, who received autologous tumor lysate-pulsed dendritic cell (TLDC) also received cisplatin chemotherapy and experienced complete regression of her lung lesion, continuing to be disease free till date. Hence, the objective of our current study is to evaluate the sustenance or augmentation of immune responses when autologous human papillomavirus positive cervical tumor lysate pulsed DC- are combined with cisplatin, using co-culture assays in vitro.
METHODS: Before treatment, peripheral blood and punch biopsy samples were collected from 23 cervical cancer patients after obtaining an informed consent. DC functionality was confirmed through phenotypic and functional assays using autologous peripheral blood mononuclear cells as responders. For cisplatin experiments, the drug was added at 150, 200 (clinical dose equivalent), and 400 μM concentrations to DCs alone or DC-T cell co-cultures. Phenotypic assessment and functional characterization of DCs was done using flow cytometry. Cytokine enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and interferon (IFN)-γ enzyme-linked immune absorbent spot assays were also performed.
RESULTS: The functionality of TLDCs was not compromised upon cisplatin treatment in vitro even at the highest (400 μM) concentration. Even though cisplatin treatment reduced the secretion of IFN-γ and interleukin (IL)-12p40 in co-cultures stimulated with TLDCs, this effect was not significant (p>0.05). A doubling of IFN-γ secretion following cisplatin treatment was observed in at least one of three independent experiments. Additional experiments showed a reduction in both FOXP3+ regulatory T cells and IL-10 levels.
CONCLUSION: Our results provide evidence that cisplatin treatment may be given after autologous TLDC administration to maintain or improve a productive anti-tumor response in vaccinated patients.