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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011, Article ID 274858, 10 pages
Original Article

Carthamus tinctorius Enhances the Antitumor Activity of Dendritic Cell Vaccines via Polarization toward Th1 Cytokines and Increase of Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes

Division of Research and Development, Development Center for Biotechnology, Xizhi City, Taipei County, Taiwan 221, R.O.C., Taiwan

Received 19 March 2008; Accepted 9 October 2008

Copyright © 2011 Jia-Ming Chang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Carthamus tinctorius (CT), also named safflower, is a traditional Chinese medicine widely used to improve blood circulation. CT also has been studied for its antitumor activity in certain cancers. To investigate the effects of CT on the dendritic cell (DC)-based vaccine in cancer treatment, cytokine secretion of mouse splenic T lymphocytes and the maturation of DCs in response to CT were analyzed. To assess the antitumor activity of CT extract on mouse CD117+ (c-kit)-derived DCs pulsed with JC mammal tumor antigens, the JC tumor was challenged by the CT-treated DC vaccine in vivo. CT stimulated IFN-γ and IL-10 secretion of splenic T lymphocytes and enhanced the maturation of DCs by enhancing immunological molecule expression. When DC vaccine was pulsed with tumor antigens along with CT extract, the levels of TNF-α and IL-1β were dramatically increased with a dose-dependent response and more immunologic and co-stimulatory molecules were expressed on the DC surface. In addition, CT-treated tumor lysate-pulsed DC vaccine reduced the tumor weight in tumor-bearing mice by 15.3% more than tumor lysate-pulsed DC vaccine without CT treatment. CT polarized cytokine secretion toward the Th1 pathway and also increased the population of cytotoxic T lymphocytes ex vivo. In conclusion, CT activates DCs might promote the recognition of antigens and facilitate antigen presentation to Th1 immune responses.