Antigen presenting cells (APCs) activate helper and cytotoxic T cells specific for antigens expressed by tissue cells, including neoplastic cells. This event occurs after the antigen transfer from tissue cells to APC, and is referred to as “cross-presentation”. The number and the state of activation of APC in the tumor control the outcome of crosspresentation, including the establishment of protective immune responses. Cell death favors cross-presentation. Cancer cells normally die, either spontaneously or as a consequence of targeted therapies. The transfer of tumor antigens from dying tumor cells to APCs in vivo, exploiting the crosspresentation pathway, has the potential of yielding novel immunotherapeutic strategies. Their success will depend on at least two factors: the induction of synchronized cell death in the tumor, and the recruitment of activated dendritic cells in the tumor. Under normal conditions, pancreatic cancer represents a privileged environment; its profound chemoresistance reflects limited apoptosis after chemotherapy. Moreover, it usually contains only a few cells endowed with APC function. Endoscopic ultrasonography offers attractive possibilities of circumventing this privilege, including the delivery of ultrasound, radiofrequency or radiation in order to destroy the tumor and the delivery in situ of autologous APC or appropriate chemotactic signals. In general, loco-regional approaches offer the possibility of using the tumor of each patient as a complex antigen source, thus limiting the risk of tumor escape and reducing the need for extensive ex vivo handling of the neoplasm and of the patient APCs.
Patrizia Rovere-Querini, Angelo A Manfredi