Adoptive cancer immunotherapy using DNA-demethylated T helper cells as antigen-presenting cells

Alexei F Kirkin, Karine N Dzhandzhugazyan, Per Guldberg, Johnny Jon Fang, Rikke S Andersen, Christina Dahl, Jann Mortensen, Tim Lundby, Aase Wagner, Ian Law, Helle Broholm, Line Madsen, Christer Lundell-Ek, Morten F Gjerstorff, Henrik J Ditzel, Martin R Jensen, Walter Fischer

26 Citationer (Scopus)


In cancer cells, cancer/testis (CT) antigens become epigenetically derepressed through DNA demethylation and constitute attractive targets for cancer immunotherapy. Here we report that activated CD4+ T helper cells treated with a DNA-demethylating agent express a broad repertoire of endogenous CT antigens and can be used as antigen-presenting cells to generate autologous cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and natural killer cells. In vitro, activated CTLs induce HLA-restricted lysis of tumor cells of different histological types, as well as cells expressing single CT antigens. In a phase 1 trial of 25 patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, cytotoxic lymphocytes homed to the tumor, with tumor regression ongoing in three patients for 14, 22, and 27 months, respectively. No treatment-related adverse effects were observed. This proof-of-principle study shows that tumor-reactive effector cells can be generated ex vivo by exposure to antigens induced by DNA demethylation, providing a novel, minimally invasive therapeutic strategy for treating cancer.

TidsskriftNature Communications
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)785
StatusUdgivet - 6 mar. 2018


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