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J Immunol. 2005 Aug 1;175(3):1456-63.

Provision of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor converts an autoimmune response to a self-antigen into an antitumor response.

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  • 1Tumor Immunity and Tolerance Section, Laboratory of Molecular Immunoregulation, National Cancer Institute, Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.


Many tumor Ags recognized by T cells are self-Ags. Because high avidity, self-reactive T cells are deleted in the thymus, any residual self-reactive T cells existing in the periphery are likely to be low avidity and nonresponsive due to peripheral tolerance mechanisms. Activation of these residual T cells is critical for targeting tumors for immunotherapy. In this study, we studied immune responses against the murine B16 melanoma using a tyrosinase-related protein 2 (TRP-2) peptide as a model tumor/self-Ag. Our results showed that TRP-2 peptide vaccination alone elicited a weak T cell response and modestly decreased B16 lung tumor nodules. The combination of peptide vaccination and treatment with an Ab directed against the inhibitory receptor CTLA-4 enhanced the immune response against TRP-2 peptide, inducing autoimmune depigmentation and further decreasing lung tumor nodules. However, both vaccination methods failed to protect against orthotopic (s.c.) B16 tumor challenge. The addition of an irradiated GM-CSF-expressing, amelanotic tumor cell vaccine significantly delayed s.c. B16 tumor growth. Subsequent studies revealed that provision of GM-CSF increased dendritic cell numbers in lymph nodes and spleen. Furthermore, addition of CTLA-4 blockade increased the frequency of TRP-2-specific, IFN-secreting T cells in spleen and lymph nodes. Overall, our results indicate that combining enhancement of Ag presentation with removal of CTLA-4-mediated inhibition can convert a "weaker" autoimmune response into a more potent antitumor immune response.

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