For vaccinations based on dendritic cells (DCs), maturation of DCs is critical to the induction of T-cell responses. We tested the efficacy of streptococcal preparation OK-432 as a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)-grade maturation agent. OK-432 is currently used in Japan as a cancer immunotherapy drug. Immature monocyte-derived dendritic cells (imMo-DCs) isolated from human peripheral blood monocytes stimulated with granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor and interleukin-4 were exposed to maturation factors, i.e., lipopolysaccharide (LPS), tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) plus prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), and OK-432 for 2 days. OK-432 increased expression of activation- and maturation-related molecules such as HLA-DR, CD80, CD83, and CD86 in imMo-DCs at levels similar to that of TNF-α plus PGE2, and higher than that of LPS. All agents examined induced allogeneic T-cell proliferation at a similar level. Only OK-432 caused significant production of interleukin-12 (IL-12) p70 and interferon γ (IFN-γ) at both the mRNA and protein levels in imMo-DCs. Neutralizing antibody against IL-12 p70 blocked IFN-γ secretion from OK-432-stimulated Mo-DCs. IL-12 p70 produced by OK-432-stimulated imMo-DCs induced secretion of IFN-γ by CD4+ T cells. OK-432 and LPS activated nuclear factor κ B (NF-κB) in imMo-DCs. Both secretion of IL-12 p70 and IFN-γ and activation of NF-κB induced by OK-432 were suppressed when imMo-DCs were pretreated with cytochalasin B. These results indicate that uptake of OK-432 by imMo-DCs is an early critical event for IL-12 p70 production and that NF-κB activation induced by OK-432 also contributes partially to IL-12 p70 production. In conclusion, OK-432 is a GMP-grade maturation agent and may be a potential tool for DC-based vaccine therapies.
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