Background: In cancer immunotherapy, dendritic cells (DCs) play a fundamental role in the dialog between innate and adaptive immune response, but several immunosuppressive mechanisms remain to be overcome. For example, a high number of CD4+CD25++Foxp3+ regulatory T-cells (Foxp3+Tregs) have been observed in the peripheral blood and tumor microenvironment of cancer patients. On the basis of this, we conducted a study on DC-based vaccination in advanced melanoma, adding low-dose temozolomide to obtain lymphodepletion.Methods: Twenty-one patients were entered onto our vaccination protocol using autologous DCs pulsed with autologous tumor lysate and keyhole limpet hemocyanin. Patients received low-dose temozolomide before vaccination and 5 days of low-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) after vaccination. Circulating Foxp3+Tregs were evaluated before and after temozolomide, and after IL-2.Results: Among the 17 evaluable patients we observed 1 partial response (PR), 6 stable disease (SD) and 10 progressive disease (PD). The disease control rate (PR+SD = DCR) was 41% and median overall survival was 10 months. Temozolomide reduced circulating Foxp3+Treg cells in all patients. A statistically significant reduction of 60% was observed in Foxp3+Tregs after the first cycle, whereas the absolute lymphocyte count decreased by only 14%. Conversely, IL-2 increased Foxp3+Treg cell count by 75.4%. Of note the effect of this cytokine, albeit not statistically significant, on the DCR subgroup led to a further 33.8% reduction in Foxp3+Treg cells.Conclusions: Our results suggest that the combined immunological therapy, at least as far as the DCR subgroup is concerned, effectively reduced the number of Foxp3+Treg cells, which exerted a blunting effect on the growth-stimulating effect of IL-2. However, this regimen, with its current modality, would not seem to be capable of improving clinical outcome.
- Dendritic cell
- Low-dose temozolomide
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)