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Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Jan 15;10(2):668-80.

gp100(209-2M) peptide immunization of human lymphocyte antigen-A2+ stage I-III melanoma patients induces significant increase in antigen-specific effector and long-term memory CD8+ T cells.

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  • 1Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center, Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, Providence Portland Medical Center, Portland, Oregon 97213, USA.


Thirty-five HLA-A2(+) patients with completely resected stage I-III melanoma were vaccinated multiple times over 6 months with a modified melanoma peptide, gp100(209-2M), emulsified in Montanide adjuvant. Direct ex vivo gp100(209-2M) tetramer analysis of pre- and postvaccine peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) demonstrated significant increases in the frequency of tetramer(+) CD8(+) T cells after immunization for 33 of 35 evaluable patients (median, 0.36%; range, 0.05-8.9%). Ex vivo IFN-gamma cytokine flow cytometry analysis of postvaccine PBMCs after brief gp100(209-2M) in vitro activation showed that for all of the patients studied tetramer(+) CD8(+) T cells produced IFN-gamma; however, some patients had significant numbers of tetramer(+) IFN-gamma(-) CD8(+)T cells suggesting functional anergy. Additionally, 8 day gp100(209-2M) in vitro stimulation (IVS) of pre- and postvaccine PBMCs resulted in significant expansion of tetramer(+) CD8(+) T cells from postvaccine cells for 34 patients, and these IVS tetramer(+) CD8(+) T cells were functionally responsive by IFN-gamma cytokine flow cytometry analysis after restimulation with either native or modified gp100 peptide. However, correlated functional and phenotype analysis of IVS-expanded postvaccine CD8(+) T cells demonstrated the proliferation of functionally anergic gp100(209-2M)- tetramer(+) CD8(+) T cells in several patients and also indicated interpatient variability of gp100(209-2M) stimulated T-cell proliferation. Flow cytometry analysis of cryopreserved postvaccine PBMCs from representative patients showed that the majority of tetramer(+) CD8+ T cells (78.1 +/- 4.2%) had either an "effector" (CD45 RA(+)/CCR7(-)) or an "effector-memory" phenotype (CD45RA(-)/CCR7(-)). Notably, analysis of PBMCs collected 12-24 months after vaccine therapy demonstrated the durable presence of gp100(209-2M)-specific memory CD8(+) T cells with high proliferation potential. Overall, this report demonstrates that after vaccination with a MHC class I-restricted melanoma peptide, resected nonmetastatic melanoma patients can mount a significant antigen-specific CD8(+) T-cell immune response with a functionally intact memory component. The data further support the combined use of tetramer binding and functional assays in correlated ex vivo and IVS settings as a standard for immunomonitoring of cancer vaccine patients.

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