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Cancer Res. 1999 Mar 15;59(6):1287-94.

Stimulation of CD40 on immunogenic human malignant melanomas augments their cytotoxic T lymphocyte-mediated lysis and induces apoptosis.

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  • 1Institute for Biology II, University of Freiburg, Germany.


Here, we report the functional expression of CD40 on human malignant melanomas (MMs). Comparison of tumor specimen from MM precursor lesions, primary tumors, and metastases revealed that CD40 surface expression is down-regulated during tumor progression. CD40 expression was confirmed in 7 human MM cell lines established from immunogenic primary tumors or metastases, whereas 11 cell lines established from advanced stages were CD40 negative. CD40 expression could be enhanced in CD40-positive MM by stimulation with IFN-gamma and tumor necrosis factor-alpha but not by interleukin (IL)-1beta or CD40 triggering. CD40 ligation on MM by CD40L-transfected murine L-cells or by a soluble CD40L fusion protein up-regulated their expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and MHC class I and class II molecules and their secretion of IL-6, IL-8, tumor necrosis factor-a, and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor and also induced a rapid activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor kappaB. Furthermore, CD40 ligation of a HLA-A2+, MelanA/MART1+ MM cell line enhanced its susceptibility to specific lysis by a HLA-A2-restricted, MelanA/MART-1-specific CTL clone. Finally, CD40 ligation induced growth inhibition and apoptosis in MM. These results indicate that CD40-CD40L interactions may play an important role in augmenting antitumor immunity and inducing apoptosis in some CD40-positive immunogenic human MMs.

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