Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Gastroenterology. 2009 Aug;137(2):682-90. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2009.04.045. Epub 2009 Apr 23.

Profile of tumor antigen-specific CD8 T cells in patients with hepatitis B virus-related hepatocellular carcinoma.

Author information

  • 1Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Agency for Science Technology and Research, Singapore.



Tumor and viral antigens are expressed by hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with chronic hepatitis B, but little is known about the immunodominance and function of tumor- and virus-specific CD8+ T cells in these patients.


HLA-A2-restricted T-cell responses to 16 tumor antigens and hepatitis B virus (HBV) proteins were tested using 49 previously described epitopes. Cells from 30 HLA-A2+, HBV-infected patients (10 with HCC, 10 with HBV cirrhosis, and 10 HBV but no cirrhosis) were analyzed, after expansion, by enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISPOT). Interferon (IFN)-gamma, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, and interleukin (IL)-2 production, as well as expression of the degranulation marker CD107a on tumor-specific CD8+ T cells, were evaluated.


Cells from all groups had tumor-specific responses. The tumor antigens NY-ESO-1 and SSX-2 were most frequently targeted and were immunogenic in the HLA-A2 subtypes that are characteristic of Asian ethnicity. Tumor-specific T cells had low affinities; T cells from non-HCC patients were polyfunctional (IFN-gamma+, TNF-alpha+, CD107a+) and those from HCC patients displayed an exhausted phenotype (IFN-gamma+, CD107a+). Programmed Death 1 (PD-1) was expressed at higher levels on T cells from tumor and liver than peripheral blood from HCC patients and might contribute to T-cell exhaustion. Blocking PD-1/PD-L1 increased the frequency of tumor-specific T cells in HCC patients but did not restore T cell function.


Patients with or without HCC have a quantitative and functional hierarchy of tumor-specific T cells. HLA-A2-restricted T cells from HCC patients target NY-ESO-1, but exist in an exhausted state that might require additional activation to restore function.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk