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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2012, Article ID 690643, 14 pages
Review Article

Optimizing Dendritic Cell-Based Immunotherapy: Tackling the Complexity of Different Arms of the Immune System

1Laboratory of Pharmacology, Department of Translational Pathophysiological Research, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium
2Laboratory of Experimental Hematology, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute (VAXINFECTIO), Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium

Received 23 December 2011; Accepted 17 June 2012

Academic Editor: Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti

Copyright © 2012 Ilse Van Brussel 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.


Earlier investigations have revealed a surprising complexity and variety in the range of interaction between cells of the innate and adaptive immune system. Our understanding of the specialized roles of dendritic cell (DC) subsets in innate and adaptive immune responses has been significantly advanced over the years. Because of their immunoregulatory capacities and because very small numbers of activated DC are highly efficient at generating immune responses against antigens, DCs have been vigorously used in clinical trials in order to elicit or amplify immune responses against cancer and chronic infectious diseases. A better insight in DC immunobiology and function has stimulated many new ideas regarding the potential ways forward to improve DC therapy in a more fundamental way. Here, we discuss the continuous search for optimal in vitro conditions in order to generate clinical-grade DC with a potent immunogenic potential. For this, we explore the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying adequate immune responses and focus on most favourable DC culture regimens and activation stimuli in humans. We envisage that by combining each of the features outlined in the current paper into a unified strategy, DC-based vaccines may advance to a higher level of effectiveness.