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Blood. 1996 Aug 15;88(4):1501-8.

Evidence for a graft-versus-tumor effect in a patient treated with marrow ablative chemotherapy and allogeneic bone marrow transplantation for breast cancer.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Innsbruck, Austria.


Graft-versus-leukemia (GvL) has been shown to be an important immune-mediated antitumor effect in hematologic malignancies. It is still unknown whether such an immunemediated antitumor effect has clinical implications in patients with solid tumors. A 32-year-old woman with inflammatory breast cancer received a bone marrow transplant (BMT) from her HLA-identical sibling. During graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) cytotoxic T lymphocytes were grown and tested in a chromium-release assay against B and T lymphocytes of the patient and donor and against a panel of breast cancer cell lines. Resolution of liver metastases was observed simultaneously with clinical GvHD in the first weeks after transplant. In addition, minor histocompatibility antigen (MiHA)-specific and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I antigen-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocytes recognizing breast carcinoma target cells were isolated from the blood of the patient. Pretreatment of such target cells with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha but not with interferon (IFN)-alpha or IFN-gamma increased susceptibility of these cells to lysis by cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Clinical course and in vitro results suggest that a graft-versus-tumor (GvT) effect might exist after allogeneic BMT for breast cancer. However, clinical experience on a larger scale would be required to determine the clinical efficacy of GvT effects in patients with solid tumors.

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