Vaccines using dendritic cells (DCs) harboring leukemic antigens to stimulate T cells is a possible treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Limitations of breaking tolerance to leukemic cells and lack of specific activation of T cell-mediated cytotoxicity may explain the discouraging clinical results with this approach. To break self-tolerance against AML cells, we loaded DCs with AML antigens and a bifunctional small interference (si) RNA targeting interleukin (IL) 10 and simultaneously activating toll-like receptors (TLRs). In vitro, this active siRNA inhibited (P < .05) IL-10 production by silencing the IL-10 gene in DCs. The active siRNA stimulated production of tumor necrosis factor α, implying activation of TLRs. Vaccination in a nonimmunogenic rat model mimicking human AML with the loaded DCs induced a substantial and specific T-cell cytotoxicity. Leukemic rats treated with the active siRNA lived longer and had markedly less leukemic cell mass infiltrating their bone marrow compared with rats given inactive siRNA (P < .05). Furthermore, compared with inactive siRNA treatment, the active siRNA led to significantly less extramedullar leukemic dissemination, evidenced by reduced matrix metalloproteinase activity and smaller spleens. Our data demonstrate that this bifunctional siRNA may work as an immunomodulatory drug with antileukemic properties.
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