Ex vivo programming of dendritic cells by mitochondria-targeted nanoparticles to produce interferon-gamma for cancer immunotherapy

Sean Marrache, Smanla Tundup, Donald A. Harn, Shanta Dhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

74 Scopus citations


One of the limitations for clinical applications of dendritic cell (DC)-based cancer immunotherapy is the low potency in generating tumor antigen specific T cell responses. We examined the immunotherapeutic potential of a mitochondria-targeted nanoparticle (NP) based on a biodegradable polymer and zinc phthalocyanine (ZnPc) photosensitizer (T-ZnPc-NPs). Here, we report that tumor antigens generated from treatment of breast cancer cells with T-ZnPc-NPs upon light stimulation activate DCs to produce high levels of interferon-gamma, an important cytokine considered as a product of T and natural killer cells. The remarkable ex vivo DC stimulation ability of this tumor cell supernatant is a result of an interleukin (IL)-12/IL-18 autocrine effect. These findings contribute to the understanding of how in situ light activation amplifies the host immune responses when NPs deliver the photosensitizer to the mitochondria and open up the possibility of using mitochondria-targeted-NP-treated, light-activated cancer cell supernatants as possible vaccines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7392-7402
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 27 2013



  • apoptosis
  • biodegradable polymer
  • dendritic cell therapy
  • photodynamic therapy
  • vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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