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Cancer Res. 1997 Sep 15;57(18):4036-41.

Enhanced induction of antitumor T-cell responses by cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated molecule-4 blockade: the effect is manifested only at the restricted tumor-bearing stages.

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  • 1Biomedical Research Center, Osaka University Medical School, Suita, Japan.


Cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated molecule-4 (CTLA-4), a second counterreceptor for the B7 family of costimulatory molecules, functions as a negative regulator of T-cell activation. Here, we investigated whether the blockade of the CTLA-4 function leads to enhancement of antitumor T-cell responses at various stages of tumor growth. Unfractionated spleen cells taken from CSAIM fibrosarcoma-bearing mice 1-2 weeks after CSA1M cell implantation (early tumor-bearing mice) contained tumor-primed T cells that produced interleukin 2 and IFN-gamma through collaboration with antigen-presenting cell-binding tumor antigens when cultured in vitro. However, this initial lymphokine-producing capacity decreased at later stages of tumor growth (7-10 weeks after tumor cell implantation). Anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibody (mAb) was added to whole-spleen cell cultures from early or late tumor-bearing mice. Spleen cells from early tumor-bearing mice exhibited enhanced production of interleukin 2 and IFN-gamma upon in vitro culture in the presence of anti-CTLA-4 mAb. However, addition of anti-CTLA-4 mAb to whole-spleen cell cultures from late tumor-bearing mice failed to display such an enhancement. Consistent with these in vitro results, the in vivo antitumor effect of anti-CTLA-4 administration was observed in a tumor-bearing stage-restricted manner; in vivo administration of anti-CTLA-4 (1 mg/mouse, three times at 1-week intervals) into early tumor-bearing mice resulted in regression of growing tumors, whereas the same treatment did not affect tumor growth when performed for late tumor-bearing mice. Similar anti-CTLA-4 effect was observed in another tumor (OV-HM ovarian carcinoma) model. These in vitro and in vivo results indicate that CTLA-4 blockade in tumor-bearing individuals enhances the capacity to generate antitumor T-cell responses, but the expression of such an enhancing effect is restricted to early stages of tumor growth.

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