Dendritic cells (DC) are important accessory cells that are capable of initiating an immune response. Generation of functional DC has potential clinical use in treating diseases such as cancer. In this report, we have demonstrated the generation of functional DC from mononuclear cells isolated from human umbilical cord blood cells (UCBC) and peripheral blood cells (PBC) using a defined medium Prime Complete Growth Medium™ (PCGM) (GenePrime LLC, Gaithersburg, MD). DC generated using PCGM showed the typical phenotype of DC as determined by flow cytometry and electron microscopy. Further analysis of the DC using confocal microscopy showed localization of the antigen and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules in the cytoplasm 3-5 days following tumor antigen loading into DC. Subsequently, the tumor antigen-MHC complex was localized on the surface of DC. DC generated from UCBC or PBC also increased (p < 0.001) the allogeneic mixed lymphocyte reaction, confirming their immune accessory functions compared to a control mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) without DC added. Interestingly, DC generated using PCGM medium also significantly enhanced the hematopoietic colony (CFU-C)-forming ability. Furthermore, addition of 5% DC derived from cord blood loaded with tumor antigen also significantly (p < 0.001) increased peripheral and cord blood-derived antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-mediated killing of human leukemic cells (K562) and breast cancer cells (MDA-231). Thus, these results show that functional DC generated from cord blood using a defined medium are a useful source of accessory cells for augmenting CTL-mediated cytotoxicity and have potential use in cellular therapy for human leukemia and breast cancer.
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