The effect of anti-VEGF therapy on immature myeloid cell and dendritic cells in cancer patients
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Impairment of dendritic cells (DC), the most effective activators of anticancer immune responses, is one mechanism for defective antitumor immunity, but the causes of DC impairment are incompletely understood. We evaluated the association of impaired DC differentiation with angiogenesis-associated molecules D-dimer, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), and plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1) in peripheral blood from 41 patients with lung, breast, and colorectal carcinoma. Subsequently, we studied the effect of administration of the anti-VEGF antibody (bevacizumab) on DC maturation and function in vivo. Compared with healthy volunteers, cancer patients had a bias toward the immunoregulatory DC2, had deficits in DC maturation after overnight in vitro culture, and had a significant increase in immature myeloid cell progenitors of DC (0.50 ± 0.31% vs. 0.32 ± 0.16% of peripheral blood mononuclear cells, respectively, P = 0.011). A positive correlation was found between the percentage of DC2 and PAI-1 (R = 0.50) and between immature myeloid cells and VEGF (R = 0.52). Bevacizumab administration to cancer patients was associated with a decrease in the accumulation of immature progenitor cells (0.39 ± 0.30% vs. 0.27 ± 0.24%, P = 0.012) and induced a modest increase in the DC population in peripheral blood (0.47 ± 0.23% vs. 0.53 ± 0.30%). Moreover, anti-VEGF antibody treatment enhanced allo-stimulatory capacity of DC and T cell proliferation against recall antigens. These data suggest that DC differentiation is negatively associated with VEGF levels and may be one explanation for impaired anticancer immunity, especially in patients with advanced malignancies.