Generation of clinical grade dendritic cells with capacity to produce biologically active IL-12p70

Anke Zobywalski, Miran Javorovic, Bernhard Frankenberger, Heike Pohla, Elisabeth Kremmer, Iris Bigalke, Dolores J Schendel
Journal of Translational Medicine 2007, 5: 18

BACKGROUND: For optimal T cell activation it is desirable that dendritic cells (DCs) display peptides within MHC molecules as signal 1, costimulatory molecules as signal 2 and, in addition, produce IL-12p70 as signal 3. IL-12p70 polarizes T cell responses towards CD4+ T helper 1 cells, which then support the development of CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes. We therefore developed new maturation cocktails allowing DCs to produce biologically active IL-12p70 for large-scale cancer vaccine development.

METHODS: After elutriation of leukapheresis products in a closed bag system, enriched monocytes were cultured with GM-CSF and IL-4 for six days to generate immature DCs that were then matured with cocktails, containing cytokines, interferon-gamma, prostaglandin E2, and a ligand for Toll-like receptor 8, with or without poly (I:C).

RESULTS: Mature DCs expressed appropriate maturation markers and the lymph node homing chemokine receptor, CCR7. They retained full maturity after culture for two days without maturation cocktails and following cryopreservation. TLR ligand stimulation induced DCs capable of secreting IL-12p70 in primary cultures and after one day of coculture with CD40L-expressing fibroblasts, mimicking an encounter with T cells. DCs matured with our new cocktails containing TLR8 ligand, with or without poly (I:C), induced alloresponses and stimulated virus-specific T cells after peptide-pulsing. DCs matured in cocktails containing TLR8 ligand without poly (I:C) could also be loaded with RNA as a source of antigen, whereas DCs matured in cocktails containing poly (I:C) were unable to express proteins following RNA transfer by electroporation.

CONCLUSION: Our new maturation cocktails allowed easy DC harvesting, stable maturation and substantial recoveries of mature DCs after cryopreservation. Our procedure for generating DCs is easily adaptable for GMP-compliance and yields IL-12p70-secreting DCs suitable for development of cancer vaccines using peptides or RNA as sources of immunizing antigens.

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