The role of dendritic cells in radiation-induced immune responses.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Int Rev Cell Mol Biol


oregon; portland


Dendritic cells perform critical functions in bridging innate and adaptive immunity. Their ability to sense adjuvant signals in their environment, migrate on maturation, and cross-present cell-associated antigens enables these cells to carry antigen from tissue sites to lymph nodes, and thereby prime naïve T cells that cannot enter tissues. Despite being an infrequent cell type in tumors, we discuss how dendritic cells impact the immune environment of tumors and their response to cancer therapies. We review how radiation therapy of tumors can impact dendritic cells, through transfer of cell associated antigens to dendritic cells and the release of endogenous adjuvants, resulting in increased antigen presentation in the tumor-draining lymph nodes. We explore how tumor specific factors can result in negative regulation of dendritic cell function in the tumor, and the impact of direct radiation exposure to dendritic cells in the treatment field. These data suggest an important role for dendritic cell subpopulations in activating new T cell responses and boosting existing T cell responses to tumor associated antigens in tumor draining lymph nodes following radiation therapy. It further justifies a focus on the needs of the lymph node T cells to improve systemic anti-immunity following radiation therapy.

Clinical Institute



Earle A. Chiles Research Institute