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Cytokines Produced by Dendritic Cells Administered Intratumorally Correlate with Clinical Outcome in Patients with Diverse Cancers


Purpose: Dendritic cells (DC) initiate adaptive immune responses through the uptake and presentation of antigenic material. In preclinical studies, intratumorally injected activated DCs (aDCs; DCVax-Direct) were superior to immature DCs in rejecting tumors from mice.Experimental Design: This single-arm, open-label phase I clinical trial evaluated the safety and efficacy of aDCs, administered intratumorally, in patients with solid tumors. Three dose levels (2 million, 6 million, and 15 million aDCs per injection) were tested using a standard 3 + 3 dose-escalation trial design. Feasibility, immunogenicity, changes to the tumor microenvironment after direct injection, and survival were evaluated. We also investigated cytokine production of aDCs prior to injection.Results: In total, 39 of the 40 enrolled patients were evaluable. The injections of aDCs were well tolerated with no dose-limiting toxicities. Increased lymphocyte infiltration was observed in 54% of assessed patients. Stable disease (SD; best response) at week 8 was associated with increased overall survival. Increased secretion of interleukin (IL)-8 and IL12p40 by aDCs was significantly associated with survival (P = 0.023 and 0.024, respectively). Increased TNFα levels correlated positively with SD at week 8 (P < 0.01).Conclusions: Intratumoral aDC injections were feasible and safe. Increased production of specific cytokines was correlated with SD and prolonged survival, demonstrating a link between the functional profile of aDCs prior to injection and patient outcomes. Clin Cancer Res; 24(16); 3845-56. ©2018 AACR.

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