Dendritic Cell Maturation Defines Immunological Responsiveness of Tumors and Radiation

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The Journal of Immunology


Radiation therapy is capable of directing adaptive immune responses against tumors by stimulating the release of endogenous adjuvants and tumor-associated Ags. Within the tumor, conventional type 1 dendritic cells (cDC1s) are uniquely positioned to respond to these signals, uptake exogenous tumor Ags, and migrate to the tumor draining lymph node to initiate cross-priming of tumor-reactive cytotoxic CD8+ T cells. In this study, we report that radiation therapy promotes the activation of intratumoral cDC1s in radioimmunogenic murine tumors, and this process fails to occur in poorly radioimmunogenic murine tumors. In poorly radioimmunogenic tumors, the adjuvant polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid overcomes this failure following radiation and successfully drives intratumoral cDC1 maturation, ultimately resulting in durable tumor cures. Depletion studies revealed that both cDC1 and CD8+ T cells are required for tumor regression following combination therapy. We further demonstrate that treatment with radiation and polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid significantly expands the proportion of proliferating CD8+ T cells in the tumor with enhanced cytolytic potential and requires T cell migration from lymph nodes for therapeutic efficacy. Thus, we conclude that lack of endogenous adjuvant release or active suppression following radiation therapy may limit its efficacy in poorly radioimmunogenic tumors, and coadministration of exogenous adjuvants that promote cDC1 maturation and migration can overcome this limitation to improve tumor control following radiation therapy.

Clinical Institute



Earle A. Chiles Research Institute