Intelligent photothermal dendritic cells restart the cancer immunity cycle through enhanced immunogenic cell death

Zhihong Sun, Guanjun Deng, Xinghua Peng, Xiuli Xu, Lanlan Liu, Jiaofeng Peng, Yifan Ma, Pengfei Zhang, Austin Wen, Yifan Wang, Zhaogang Yang, Ping Gong, Wen Jiang, Lintao Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Dendritic cells (DCs) play a pivotal role in initiating antigen-specific tumor immunity. However, the abnormal function of DCs owing to the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) and the insufficient number of tumor infiltrating DCs could promote immune tolerance and tumor immune escape. Thus, there is great potential to employ DCs to induce efficient antitumor immunity. In this paper, we developed intelligent DCs (iDCs), which consist of nanoparticles loaded with photothermal agents (IR-797) and coated with a mature DC membrane. The DC cell membrane on the surface of iDCs preserves the ability to present antigens and prime T cells. The iDCs can also enter the lymph node and stimulate T cells. The activated T cells reduced the expression of heat shock proteins (HSPs) in tumor cells, rendering them more sensitive to heat stress. Subsequently, we used mild photothermal therapy (42–45 °C) to induce immunogenic cell death and contribute to a synergistic antitumor effect. iDCs as a refined and precise system in combination with DC-based immunotherapy and thermal therapy can be stored long-term and on a large scale, so they can be applied in many patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number121228
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomimetic theranostics
  • Intelligent DCs
  • Mature dendritic cells
  • Mild photothermal therapy
  • NIR
  • TME

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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