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J Neurosurg. 1991 Dec;75(6):922-9.

Expression and modulation of major histocompatibility antigens on murine primary brain tumor in vitro.

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  • 1Clinical Neurosurgery Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, Maryland.


Lysis of tumor cells by activated cytotoxic lymphocytes requires their recognition of antigens associated with major histocompatibility complex molecules. The authors studied the constitutive expression of Class I and Class II major histocompatibility complex antigens on mouse brain-tumor cells and the capacity of different cytokines and cytokine combinations to alter this expression in vitro. Cells from the murine glioma 26 (GL26), glioma 261 (GL261), and ependymoblastoma A (EpA) cell lines were established in monolayer culture and treated for 48 hours with either alpha interferon, gamma interferon, tumor necrosis factor alpha, tumor necrosis factor alpha plus gamma interferon, or interleukin-2. They were then analyzed by flow cytometry for baseline and cytokine-altered major histocompatibility complex expression. All cell lines had a similar constitutive major histocompatibility complex pattern with low Class I antigen expression and no detectable Class II antigen expression. Alpha interferon substantially induced and up-regulated Class I antigen expression, but had no effect on Class II antigen expression. Gamma interferon also stimulated up-regulation of Class I antigen expression, generally doubling the anti-Class I antigen fluorescence of treated cells. Its effect on Class II antigen expression was more extensive. In the GL26 and GL261 cell lines the expression of Class II antigen determinants increased to 12 x and 14 x control values and as many as 75% of cells that had no detectable constitutive expression of Class II antigen expressed this antigen after priming with gamma interferon. The addition of tumor necrosis factor alpha to gamma interferon further increased Class II antigen expression on EpA tumor cells only. Interleukin-2 and tumor necrosis factor alpha alone had no effect on Class I or Class II antigen expression of any cell lines. It is concluded that Class I and Class II antigen expression in mouse glioma cell lines is induced and enhanced after treatment with certain cytokines in vitro. Use of these cell lines to create in situ primary brain tumors in C57BL/6 mice should provide an excellent animal system to study major histocompatibility complex modulation in brain tumor cells and to examine the potential impact of major histocompatibility complex up-regulation on the response of brain tumors to immunotherapy.

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