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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;601:357-68.

T cell tolerance to tumors and cancer immunotherapy.

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  • 1Applied and Developmental Research Support Program, SAIC-Frederick, Inc., NCI-Frederick, Frederick, MD, USA.


It is widely recognized that the immune system plays a role in cancer progression and that some tumors are inherently immunogenic. The identification of tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) has stimulated research focused on immunotherapies to mediate the regression of established tumors. Cancer-specific immunity has traditionally been aimed at activating CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) directed against major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I-binding peptide epitopes. Other approaches utilize T cell adoptive therapy where autologous, tumor-specific T cells propagated in vitro are transferred back into recipients. However, these strategies have met with limited success in part due to the regulatory mechanisms of T cell tolerance, which poses a considerable challenge to cancer immunotherapy. Our laboratory utilizes the TRansgenic Adenocarcinoma of the Mouse Prostate (TRAMP) model, a murine model of prostate cancer, to study mechanisms of T cell tolerization to tumor antigens. We previously demonstrated that upon encounter with their cognate antigen in the tumor microenvironment, naive T cell become tolerized. Our ongoing studies are testing whether provision of CD4+ T cells can enhance tumor immunity by preventing CD8+ T cell tolerance. A greater understanding of the interaction between various tumor-specific T cell subsets will facilitate the design of novel approaches to stimulate a more potent antitumor immune response.

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