Dendritic cells pulsed with pancreatic cancer total tumor RNA generate specific antipancreatic cancer T cells

Matthew F. Kalady, Mark W. Onaitis, Sirisha Emani, Zeinab Abdul-Wahab, Scott K. Pruitt, Douglas S. Tyler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


RNA-based dendritic cell immunotherapy with the use of total tumor RNA provides the potential to generate a polyclonal immune response to multiple known and unknown tumor antigens without HLA restriction. Our study evaluated this approach as potential immunotherapy for patients with pancreatic cancer. Dendritic cells were generated using adherent monocytes isolated from peripheral blood of patients with pancreatic cancer and evaluated phenotypically by flow cytometry to determine whether dendritic cells could be generated from the blood of patients with pancreatic cancer. Immature dendritic cells were transfected with mRNA encoding full-length carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) or pancreatic cancer total tumor messenger RNA, and then matured. Matured dendritic cell phenotypes were also analyzed by flow cytometry. Transfected, matured dendritic cells were used to stimulate autologous T cells, and the resultant antigen-specific effector T cells were analyzed by interferon-γ Elispot assay. Immature dendritic cells with characteristic phenotypic markers CD40, CD80, and CD86 were successfully isolated from the blood of patients with pancreatic cancer. Incubation with maturation agents increased expression of CD80 and CD83, demonstrating the induction of a mature antigen-presenting phenotype. Dendritic cells transfected with a pancreatic cancer-associated antigen (CEA) generated antigen-specific T cells (P<0.05). Dendritic cells transfected with autologous total tumor pancreatic cancer RNA generated T cells that specifically recognized HLA-matched pancreatic cancer cell lines (P<0. 05 compared to control cell lines). Dendritic cells from patients with pancreatic cancer maintain the ability to translate and process transfected RNA and serve as mature antigen-presenting cells. These RNA-transfected dendritic cells from pancreatic cancer patients successfully generate specific T cells against the pancreatic cancer-associated antigen CEA as well as T cells that specifically recognize pancreatic cancer cells. These data suggest that total tumor RNA-pulsed dendritic cells may have potential as an adjuvant immunotherapy for patients with pancreatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Carcinoembryonic antigen
  • Dendritic cells
  • Immunotherapy
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Total tumor RNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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