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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2005 Apr;54(4):400-6. Epub 2004 Sep 24.

Expression of MHC class I, MHC class II, and cancer germline antigens in neuroblastoma.

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  • 1Children's Hospital, Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.



Neuroblastoma is the most common solid extracranial tumor in childhood, still with poor survival rates for metastatic disease. Neuroblastoma cells are of neuroectodermal origin and express a number of cancer germline (CG) antigens. These CG antigens may represent a potential target for immunotherapy such as peptide-based vaccination strategies.


The purpose of this study was to analyze the presence of MAGE-A1, MAGE-A3/A6, and NY-ESO-1 on an mRNA and protein level and to determine the expression of MHC class I and MHC class II antigens within the same tumor specimens.


A total of 68 tumors were available for RT-PCR, and 19/68 tumors were available for immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis of MAGE-A1, MAGE-A3/A6, and NY-ESO-1. In parallel, the same tumors were stained with a panel of antibodies for MHC class I and MHC class II molecules.


Screening of 68 tumor specimens by RT-PCR revealed expression of MAGE-A1 in 44%, MAGE-A3/A6 in 21%, and NY-ESO-1 in 28% of cases. Immunohistochemistry for CG antigens of selected tumors showed good agreement between protein and gene expression. However, staining revealed a heterogeneous expression of CG antigens. None of the selected tumors showed MHC class I or MHC class II expression.


mRNA expression of MAGE-A1, MAGE-A3/A6, and NY-ESO-1 is congruent with the protein expression as determined by immunohistochemistry. The heterogeneous CG-antigen expression and the lack of MHC class I and II molecules may have implications for T-cell-mediated immunotherapy in neuroblastoma.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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