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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 1996 Jan;42(1):47-54.

Phenotypic, functional and molecular analysis of lymphocytes associated with bladder cancer.

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  • 1Servizio di Patologia Clinica, Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro, Genova, Italy.


Bladder-washing-derived lymphocytes (BWDL) from 67 patients with bladder cancer were studied. The large majority of samples contained a pure population of T lymphocytes, whereas B and NK cells were absent. A comparative analysis of bladder lymphocytes and peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL), collected in parallel, showed that BWDL significantly differed from PBL. In vitro cultures of bladder lymphocytes were attempted on 21 samples but in vitro expansion was only possible on six patients treated with bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG). This finding indicates that BWDL are characterized by a severe proliferative defect. Nevertheless, the addition of BCG on bladder lymphocytes expanded in vitro enhanced their proliferation, suggesting that this population is sensitized against BCG antigen(s). The analysis of T cell receptor restriction patterns showed that bladder lymphocytes from patients under BCG treatment were oligoclonal. A possible explanation for the efficiency of the immune response and good clinical outcome in patients treated with BCG could be found in the high homology between some BCG antigens and human heat-shock proteins, which are overexpressed in transformed cells.

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