Pathology & Oncology Research

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 267–276 | Cite as

Quantification of Blood Dendritic Cells in Colorectal Cancer Patients During the Course of Disease

  • Giulia OrsiniEmail author
  • Annalisa Legitimo
  • Alessandra Failli
  • Paola Ferrari
  • Andrea Nicolini
  • Roberto Spisni
  • Paolo Miccoli
  • Rita Consolini


Colorectal cancer is a malignancy with poor prognosis that might be associated with defective immune function. The aim of the present study was to investigate circulating dendritic cells in colorectal cancer patients, in order to contribute to elucidate tumor-escape mechanisms and to point out a possible correlation with the clinical condition of the disease. Therefore, we enumerated ex vivo myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells, through multicolor flow cytometry, in 26 colorectal patients and 33 healthy controls. Furthermore we performed several analyses at determined time points in order to define the immunological trend of cancer patients after surgery and other conventional treatments. At the pre-operative time point the absolute number of plasmacytoid dendritic cells in cancer patients was significantly reduced in comparison to controls, this result being mainly referred to stage III-IV patients. The number of myeloid dendritic cells did not show any significant difference compared to healthy controls; interestingly the expression of the tolerogenic antigen CD85k was significantly higher on cancer patients’ myeloid dendritic cells than controls’. At the following samplings, circulating dendritic cell absolute number did not show any difference compared to controls. Conclusively the impairment of the number of circulating dendritic cells may represent one of the tumor escape mechanisms occurring in colorectal cancer. These alterations seem to be correlated to cancer progression. Our work sheds light on one of dendritic cell-based tumor immune escape mechanisms. This knowledge may be useful to the development of more effective immunotherapeutic strategies.


Circulating dendritic cells Colorectal cancer Immunosuppression Flow cytometry 



This work was supported by the University of Pisa.

We would like to thank all the patients and healthy volunteers for taking part in the study. We would also like to thank Ms. Maria Cristina Scarsini for blood samplings.


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Copyright information

© Arányi Lajos Foundation 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giulia Orsini
    • 1
    Email author
  • Annalisa Legitimo
    • 1
  • Alessandra Failli
    • 2
  • Paola Ferrari
    • 1
  • Andrea Nicolini
    • 1
  • Roberto Spisni
    • 3
  • Paolo Miccoli
    • 3
  • Rita Consolini
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental and Clinical MedicineUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria PisanaPisaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Molecular, Medical and Surgical Pathology and of the Critical AreaUniversity of PisaPisaItaly

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