Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy

, Volume 68, Issue 11, pp 1875–1880 | Cite as

Activation of dendritic cells by targeted DNA: a potential addition to the armamentarium for anti-cancer immunotherapy

  • Marlene Fyrstenberg Laursen
  • Emil Kofod-Olsen
  • Ralf AggerEmail author
Focussed Research Review


In the past decade, remarkable progress has been made in immunotherapy against cancer. Specifically, the introduction of immune checkpoint inhibitors has revolutionized the field. However, many patients are unable to benefit significantly from this treatment option. One of the major reasons for this is most likely the absence of an adequate tumor-specific T cell response in these patients. A way to circumvent this problem might be to combine immune checkpoint inhibitor treatment with new strategies to activate tumor-specific T cells. One such strategy could be to activate and mature dendritic cells in situ. Dendritic cells carry an array of external and internal pattern recognition receptors that induce cell activation and maturation when interacting with their corresponding damage-associated or pathogen-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs or PAMPs). Targeting such molecular patterns directly to dendritic cells might be a way to evoke stronger immune responses. Here, we review our recent findings using antibody-targeted DNA. We summarize the results from our experiments showing that dendritic cells can be actively targeted in vivo through the αXβ2 integrin subunit CD11c, and that DNA delivered through this receptor in vitro leads to maturation of dendritic cells via the cytosolic cGAS/STING DNA-sensing pathway.


Cancer Cancer immunotherapy Dendritic cells STING PIVAC 18 



Classical type 1 dendritic cell


Classical type 2 dendritic cell


Cyclic di-nucleotide


Cyclic GMP–AMP


Cyclic GMP–AMP synthase


Complement receptor 4


Damage-associated molecular pattern


Endoplasmic reticulum


Interferon regulatory factor 3


Monocyte-derived dendritic cell


Pathogen-associated molecular pattern


Plasmacytoid dendritic cell


Pattern recognition receptor


Stimulator of interferon genes


TANK-binding kinase 1


Author contributions

Marlene Fyrstenberg Laursen, Emil Kofod-Olsen and Ralf Agger all contributed equally to the writing of the manuscript.


The support for our research from The Danish Cancer Society (Grant No. A10193), Dansk Kræftforskningsfond, The Andersen-Isted Foundation, The Else og Mogens Wedell-Wedellsborgs Foundation, Familien Erichsens Mindefond, Fabrikant Einar Willumsens Mindefond and The Pedersen Charity Foundation, Vaduz, Liechtenstein is gratefully acknowledged.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Immunology, Department of Health Science and TechnologyAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

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