Plasmacytoid dendritic cells in the tumor microenvironment: Immune targets for glioma therapeutics

Marianela Candolfi, Gwendalyn D. King, Kader Yagiz, James F. Curtin, Yohei Mineharu, A. K.M. Ghulam Muhammad, David Foulad, Kurt M. Kroeger, Nick Barnett, Regis Josien, Pedro R. Lowenstein, Maria G. Castro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Adenovirus-mediated delivery of the immune-stimulatory cytokine Flt3L and the conditionally cytotoxic thymidine kinase (TK) induces tumor regression and long-term survival in preclinical glioma (glioblastoma multiforme [GBM]) models. Flt3L induces expansion and recruitment of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) into the brain. Although pDCs can present antigen and produce powerful inflammatory cytokines, that is, interferon α (IFN-α), their role in tumor immunology remains debated. Thus, we studied the role of pDCs and IFN-α in Ad.TK/GCV + Ad.Flt3L-mediated anti-GBM therapeutic efficacy. Our data indicate that the combined gene therapy induced recruitment of plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) into the tumor mass; which were capable of in vivo phagocytosis, IFN-α release, and T-cell priming. Thus, we next used either pDCs or an Ad vector encoding IFN-α delivered within the tumor microenvironment. When rats were treated with Ad.TK/GCV in combination with pDCs or Ad-IFN-α, they exhibited 35% and 50% survival, respectively. However, whereas intracranial administration of Ad.TK/GCV + Ad.Flt3L exhibited a high safety profile, Ad-IFN-α led to severe local inflammation, with neurologic and systemic adverse effects. To elucidate whether the efficacy of the immunotherapy was dependent on IFN-α-secreting pDCs, we administered an Ad vector encoding B18R, an IFN-α antagonist, which abrogated the antitumoral effect of Ad.TK/GCV + Ad.Flt3L. Our data suggest that IFN-α release by activated pDCs plays a critical role in the antitumor effect mediated by Ad.TK/GCV + Ad.Flt3L. In summary, taken together, our results demonstrate that pDCs mediate anti-GBM therapeutic efficacy through the production of IFN-α, thus manipulation of pDCs constitutes an attractive new therapeutic target for the treatment of GBM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-770
Number of pages14
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cancer Research


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