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Cancer Res. 2007 Jul 1;67(13):6433-41.

Human neuroblastoma cells trigger an immunosuppressive program in monocytes by stimulating soluble HLA-G release.

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  • 1Laboratory of Oncology, G. Gaslini Children's Hospital, Genoa, Italy. fabiomorandi@ospedale-gaslini.ge.it


HLA-G is overexpressed in different tumors and plays a role in immune escape. Because no information is available on HLA-G in relation to human neuroblastoma, we have investigated the expression of membrane-bound and secretion of soluble isoforms of HLA-G in neuroblastoma and functionally characterized their immunosuppressive activities. At diagnosis, serum soluble HLA-G (sHLA-G) levels were significantly higher in patients than in age-matched healthy subjects. In addition, patients who subsequently relapsed exhibited higher sHLA-G levels than those who remained in remission. Neuroblastoma patient sera selected according to high sHLA-G concentrations inhibited natural killer (NK) cell and CTL-mediated neuroblastoma cell lysis. Such lysis was partially restored by serum depletion of sHLA-G. In 6 of 12 human neuroblastoma cell lines, low HLA-G surface expression was not up-regulated by IFN-gamma. Only the ACN cell line secreted constitutively sHLA-G. IFN-gamma induced de novo sHLA-G secretion by LAN-5 and SHSY5Y cells and enhanced that by ACN cells. Primary tumor lesions from neuroblastoma patients tested negative for HLA-G. Neuroblastoma patients displayed a higher number of sHLA-G-secreting monocytes than healthy controls. Incubation of monocytes from normal donors with IFN-gamma or pooled neuroblastoma cell line supernatants significantly increased the proportion of sHLA-G-secreting cells. In addition, tumor cell supernatants up-regulated monocyte expression of CD68, HLA-DR, CD69, and CD71 and down-regulated IL-12 production. Our conclusions are the following: (a) sHLA-G serum levels are increased in neuroblastoma patients and correlate with relapse, (b) sHLA-G is secreted by monocytes activated by tumor cells rather than by tumor cells themselves, and (c) sHLA-G dampens anti-neuroblastoma immune responses.

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