Immunogenic apoptosis, or more appropriately called immunogenic cell death (ICD), is a recently described form of apoptosis induced by a specific set of chemotherapeutic drugs or by physical therapeutic modalities, such as ionizing irradiation and photodynamic therapy. The peculiar characteristic of ICD is the ability to favor recognition and elimination of dying tumor cells by phagocytes in association with the release of pro-inflammatory molecules (such as cytokines and high-mobility group box-1). While in vitro and animal models pointed to ICD as one of the molecular mechanisms mediating the clinical efficacy of some anticancer agents, it is hard to clearly demonstrate its contribution in cancer patients. Clinical evidence suggests that the induction of ICD alone is possibly not sufficient to fully subvert the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. However, interesting results from recent studies contemplate the exploitation of ICD for improving the immunogenicity of cancer cells to use them as an antigen cargo in the development of dendritic cell (DC) vaccines. Herein, we discuss the effects of danger signals expressed or released by cancer cells undergoing ICD on the maturation and activation of immature and mature DC, highlighting the potential added value of ICD in adoptive immunotherapy protocols.
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