5-Aminolevulinic acid mediated photodynamic therapy (ALA-PDT) is an established local approach for skin squamous cell carcinoma. It is believed that dangerous signals damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) play an important role in ALA-PDT. In this study, we evaluated in vitro and in vivo expressions of major DAMPs, calreticulin (CRT), heat shock proteins 70 (HSP70), and high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), induced by ALA-PDT using immunohistochemistry, western blot, and ELISA in a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) mouse model. The role of DAMPs in the maturation of DCs potentiated by ALA-PDT-treated tumor cells was detected by FACS and ELISA. Our results showed that ALA-PDT enhanced the expression of CRT, HSP70, and HMGB1. These induced DAMPs played an important role in activating DCs by PDT-treated tumor cells, including phenotypic maturation (upregulation of surface expression of MHC-II, CD80, and CD86) and functional maturation (enhanced capability to secrete IFN-γ and IL-12). Furthermore, injecting ALA-PDT-treated tumor cells into naïve mice resulted in complete protection against cancer cells of the same origin. Our findings indicate that ALA-PDT can upregulate DAMPs and enhance tumor immunogenicity, providing a promising strategy for inducing a systemic anticancer immune response.
Dendritic cell (DC) based vaccine has emerged as a promising immunotherapy for cancers. However, most DC vaccines so far have only achieved limited success in cancer treatment. Photodynamic therapy (PDT), an established cancer treatment strategy, can cause immunogenic apoptosis to induce an effective antitumor immune response. In this study, we developed a DC-based cancer vaccine using immunogenic apoptotic tumor cells induced by 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) mediated PDT. The maturation of DCs induced by PDT-treated apoptotic cells was evaluated. The anti-tumor immunity of ALA-PDT-DC vaccine was tested with mouse model. We observed the maturations of DCs potentiated by ALA-PDT treated tumor cells, including phenotypic maturation (upregulation of surface expression of MHC-II, DC80, and CD86), and functional maturation (enhanced capability to secret INF-Υ and IL-12). ALA-PDT-DC vaccine mediated by apoptotic cells provided protection against tumor in mice, far stronger than that of DC vaccine obtained from freeze/thaw treated tumor cells. Our results indicate that immunogenic apoptotic tumor cells can be more effective in enhancing DC-based cancer vaccine, which could improve the clinical application of PDT- DC vaccines.