Therapeutic cancer vaccines are intended to drive specific activation of the immune system for therapy of existing malignancies or prevention of their recurrence. This requires powerful vaccination strategies, due to the preexisting immunosuppressive mechanisms orchestrated by the tumor. Theoretically, vaccination with apoptotic autologous tumor cells represents a particularly promising way to target the greatest number of potential antigens without the need for their individual identification. However, the sensing and clearance of apoptotic cells is generally considered to be a non-inflammatory or even tolerizing process. The prevailing view has been that apoptotic cells generated by normal tissue turnover are captured by dendritic cells (DCs) that migrate to local lymph nodes, where they induce T cell tolerance, T cell anergy, or T cell deletion in order to maintain tissue homeostasis and prevent autoimmunity in the host. We recently identified a novel DC subset (nDC), that, in contrast with other cross-presenting and cross-tolerizing DC subsets, potently (cross-)primes both CD4+ and CD8+T cells to cell-associated antigens after uptake of apoptotic material. The potent adjuvant activity of the nDC is largely dependent on their production of type I IFN after interacting with apoptotic cells. T cells primed by nDC display a greater capacity for primary expansion, cytokine production, and memory formation on a per cell basis than those primed by other DC subsets. As a consequence, these nDC are extremely potent in the induction of protective anti- tumor responses in both vaccination and therapeutic settings when exposed to apoptotic tumor cells. The central hypothesis underlying our proposed studies is that type I IFN production by nDC exposed to apoptotic cells is critical for nDC function and their subsequent priming of protective T cell responses to cell-associated antigens. The long-term goals of this work are two-fold: (1) definition of the molecular and cellular mechanisms in DCs that balance the pro- and anti-inflammatory immune response to self after cell death;and (2) translational exploitation of these mechanistic insights in order to devise effective therapeutic and preventive cancer vaccines.

Public Health Relevance

Vaccination with apoptotic autologous tumor cells represents a particularly promising way to target the greatest number of potential antigens without the need for their individual identification. However, Cross- presentation of cell-associated antigens from apoptotic cells by DC generally leads to the induction of T cell tolerance. We have identified a new DC subset that is capable to prime T cells to cell associated antigen. In this project we will define the molecular and cellular mechanisms in these DCs that confer the T cell priming capacity in order to translational exploit of these mechanistic insights for the design of effective therapeutic and preventive cancer vaccines. .

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Transplantation, Tolerance, and Tumor Immunology (TTT)
Program Officer
Mccarthy, Susan A
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
United States
Zip Code
Klarquist, Jared; Zhou, Zhenyuan; Shen, Nan et al. (2016) Dendritic Cells in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: From Pathogenic Players to Therapeutic Tools. Mediators Inflamm 2016:5045248
Klarquist, Jared; Janssen, Edith M (2015) The bm12 Inducible Model of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) in C57BL/6 Mice. J Vis Exp :e53319
Chougnet, Claire A; Thacker, Robert I; Shehata, Hesham M et al. (2015) Loss of Phagocytic and Antigen Cross-Presenting Capacity in Aging Dendritic Cells Is Associated with Mitochondrial Dysfunction. J Immunol 195:2624-32
Hennies, Cassandra M; Lehn, Maria A; Janssen, Edith M (2015) Quantitating MHC class II trafficking in primary dendritic cells using imaging flow cytometry. J Immunol Methods 423:18-28
Legein, Bart; Janssen, Edith M; Theelen, Thomas L et al. (2015) Ablation of CD8?(+) dendritic cell mediated cross-presentation does not impact atherosclerosis in hyperlipidemic mice. Sci Rep 5:15414
Zhang, Xue; Ulm, Ashley; Somineni, Hari K et al. (2014) DNA methylation dynamics during ex vivo differentiation and maturation of human dendritic cells. Epigenetics Chromatin 7:21
Klarquist, Jared; Hennies, Cassandra M; Lehn, Maria A et al. (2014) STING-mediated DNA sensing promotes antitumor and autoimmune responses to dying cells. J Immunol 193:6124-34
Nierkens, Stefan; Tel, Jurjen; Janssen, Edith et al. (2013) Antigen cross-presentation by dendritic cell subsets: one general or all sergeants? Trends Immunol 34:361-70
Yamaguchi, Ryuji; Janssen, Edith; Perkins, Guy et al. (2011) Efficient elimination of cancer cells by deoxyglucose-ABT-263/737 combination therapy. PLoS One 6:e24102
Katz, Jonathan D; Janssen, Edith M (2011) Breaking T cell tolerance to beta cell antigens by merocytic dendritic cells. Cell Mol Life Sci 68:2873-83

Showing the most recent 10 out of 15 publications