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Clin Exp Immunol. 1999 Jun;116(3):388-94.

Studies of the mechanism of cytolysis by tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes.

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Pathology Research Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.


In order to determine the mechanism of tumour destruction by tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL), we examined the ability of both CD4+ and CD8+ effector TIL, and TIL clones, to manifest granzyme-mediated and Fas-mediated destruction of tumour targets. In many in vitro studies TIL have been shown to manifest anti-tumour reactivity, yet many tumours escape immunological destruction. To investigate the role of Fas expression and the concomitant sensitivity to the inducibility of apoptotic death, we derived TIL from four melanomas and one glioma. The glioma, and all but one of the melanomas, expressed Fas, but Fas-mediated apoptosis could only be detected if the targets were treated with cyclohexamide. The melanomas and the glioma all expressed detectable cytoplasmic Bcl-2 protein, known to exert anti-apoptotic activity. Lysis of tumours by CD8-enriched cultures and CD8+ clones was Ca2+-dependent and could not be modified by an anti-Fas MoAb. In CD4-enriched cultures or CD4+ clones with cytotoxic potential against tumour cells, cytotoxicity was also Ca2+-dependent. As Ca2+-dependent cytotoxicity is usually the result of secretion of perforin/granzyme-B, we investigated the presence of perforin in cytotoxic CD4+ clones and demonstrated the presence of granular deposits of this enzyme in some of the CD4+ clones. Although an anti-Fas MoAb did not block the lysis of melanoma targets by CD4+ clones, the examination of Fas-dependent targets demonstrated that these clones also had the potential to kill by the Fas/Fas ligand system. These data suggest that the predominant mechanism in tumour killing by TIL appears to be perforin-granzyme-dependent, and that the solid tumour cell lines we studied are less susceptible to Fas-mediated apoptosis. As non-apoptotic pathways may enhance tumour immunogenicity, exploitation of the perforin-granzyme-dependent cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) pathways may be important for achieving successful anti-tumour responses.

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