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J Immunol. 1999 Jun 1;162(11):6880-92.

Human breast carcinoma patients develop clonable oncofetal antigen-specific effector and regulatory T lymphocytes.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of South Alabama College of Medicine, Mobile 36688, USA.


Oncofetal Ag (OFA) is a 44-kDa glycoprotein expressed during early to mid-gestation fetal development and re-expressed as a surface Ag by tumor cells soon after transformation. The Ag is detectable on all types of human and rodent tumors tested, but is undetectable on normal cells. In experimental animals it is autoimmunogenic and induces potentially protective T cell responses both after experimental immunization and during tumor development subsequent to carcinogenic insult. To determine whether this tumor-associated Ag is also immunogenic for human T lymphocytes, breast carcinoma patients' peripheral blood mononuclear leucocytes were stimulated in vitro with autologous tumor cells in the presence of IL-2, gamma-IFN, and IL-6 for 2 wk. The tumor-reactive cells were then restimulated and cloned by limiting dilution, and the clones were analyzed. We established 24, 19, 11, and 16 tumor-reactive clones from the four respective patients. Of those, 4, 6, 4, and 7, respectively, proliferated specifically to purified OFA. Both CD4 and CD8 OFA-specific clones were established, which responded equally well to purified OFA or 32- to 44-kDa immature laminin receptor protein. All were CD3+, TCR-alpha beta+. All CD4 clones secreted gamma-IFN, but neither secreted IL-4 nor IL-10. Both IFN-gamma-secreting cytotoxic CD8 clones and IL-10-secreting inhibitory CD8 clones were established. Thus, during human cancer development, the same types of OFA-specific effector and regulatory T cells are induced as during murine T lymphomagenesis.

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