A phase I/IIa study of adjuvant immunotherapy with tumour antigen-pulsed dendritic cells in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma

Jeong Hoon Lee, Yoon Lee, Minjong Lee, Min Kyu Heo, Jae Sung Song, Ki Hwan Kim, Hyunah Lee, Nam Joon Yi, Kwang Woong Lee, Kyung Suk Suh, Yong Soo Bae, Yoon Jun Kim

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73 Scopus citations


To date, no adjuvant treatment has been shown to have a clear benefit in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this prospective phase I/IIa study, we evaluated the safety and efficacy of adjuvant dendritic cell (DC) therapy in HCC patients who received primary treatment for HCC.Methods:Twelve HCC patients who had no viable tumour after primary treatments were included. Dendritic cell vaccines pulsed with cytoplasmic transduction peptide-attached alpha-fetoprotein, glypican-3 and melanoma-associated antigen 1 recombinant fusion proteins were injected subcutaneously near to inguinal lymph nodes. Adverse effects, time to progression (TTP), and associated immune responses were evaluated after DC vaccination.Results:Nine of 12 patients had no tumour recurrence up to 24 weeks after DC vaccination. Among a total of 144 adverse events, 129 events (89.6%) were regarded as adverse drug reactions, all of which were grade 1 or 2. The majority of patients showed enhanced anti-tumour immune responses after DC vaccination. Recurrence-free patients exhibited relatively stronger anti-tumour immune responses than patients who developed recurrence after DC vaccination, as evidenced by lymphocyte proliferation and IFN-γ ELISPOT assays. The median time of TTP was 36.6 months in the DC-vaccination group and 11.8 months in the control group (hazard ratio, 0.41; 95% confidence interval, 0.18-0.95; P=0.0031 by log-rank test).Conclusions:Adjuvant DC vaccine for HCC was safe and well tolerated in phase I/IIa study, and preliminary efficacy data are encouraging to warrant further clinical study in patients with HCC after primary treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1666-1676
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number12
StatePublished - 22 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Cancer Research UK.


  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • adjuvant immunotherapy
  • dendritic cells
  • efficacy
  • safety


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