We tested the feasibility of generating alpha-type-1 polarized DC (αDC1) from the blood of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients and the in vitro effectiveness of autologous tumor-loaded αDC1s in inducing CTLs against CLL. CD14+ cells were isolated from the peripheral blood of CLL patients and were cultured in rhu GM-CSF and IL-4. On day 6, DC maturation was induced using either a standard cytokine cocktail (in IL-1β, TNFα, IL-6, and PGE2) or αDC1-polarizing cocktail (in IL-1β, TNFα, IFNα, IFNγ, and poly-I:C). In either case, the maturing DCs were loaded with gamma-irradiated autologous CLL cells. αDC1s from CLL patients expressed substantially higher levels of several costimulatory molecules (CD83, CD86, CD80, CD11c and CD40) than standard DCs (sDCs) while CCR7 showed lower expression. Gamma-irradiated CLL cells were more efficienly taken up by DCs compared to UVC-irradiated CLL cells, but the ability of tumor antigen uptake was similar between αDC1 and sDCs. The capacity of IL-12p70 secretion in DCs (baseline and after stimulation with CD40L-transfected J558 cells) was significantly elevated in αDC1s (10–60 times) compared to sDCs. αDC1s also induced significantly higher numbers of functional CD8+ T cells against CLL cells, as determined by IFN-γ ELISPOT, using anti-MHC class I blocking mAb (W6/32) to verify the specificity of CTL responses. Our data demonstrate that αDC1s are a potent alternative to standard DCs as inducers of T cells for adoptive immunotherapy in patients with CLL and a clinical trial will be initiated.

Author notes

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.