The prognosis of patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) remains dismal, with a five year overall survival rate of only 5.2% for the continuously growing subgroup of AML patients older than 65 years. These patients are generally not considered eligible for intensive chemotherapy and/or allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, emphasising the need for novel, less toxic treatment alternatives for the older-age category of AML patients. It is within this context that immunotherapy has gained attention in recent years. In this review, we focus on the use of dendritic cell (DC) vaccines for immunotherapy of AML. DCs are the central orchestrators of the immune system bridging innate and adaptive immunity and are critical to the induction of anti-leukaemia immunity. Here, we discuss the rationale and basic principles of DC-based therapy for AML and review the clinical experience that has been obtained so far with this form of immunotherapy in patients with AML.
(BELG J HEMATOL 2013;4(2):58–65)