Background: Infection with human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients.
Methods: The present study explored the safety, feasibility, and immunogenicity of CMV pp65 messenger RNA–loaded autologous monocyte-derived dendritic cells (DC) as a cellular vaccine for active immunization in healthy volunteers and allogeneic HSCT recipients. Four CMV-seronegative healthy volunteers and three allogeneic HSCT recipients were included in the study. Four clinical-grade autologous monocyte-derived DC vaccines were prepared after a single leukapheresis procedure and administered intradermally at a weekly interval.
Results: De novo induction of CMV-specific T-cell responses was detected in three of four healthy volunteers without serious adverse events. Of the HSCT recipients, none developed CMV disease and one of two patients displayed a remarkable threefold increase in CMV pp65-specific T cells on completion of the DC vaccination trial.
Conclusion: In conclusion, our DC vaccination strategy induced or expanded a CMV-specific cellular response in four of six efficacy-evaluable study subjects, providing a base for its further exploration in larger cohorts.