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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1999 Oct 1;45(3):735-41.

Ionizing radiation enhances immunogenicity of cells expressing a tumor-specific T-cell epitope.

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Division of Clinical Onco-Immunology, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland.



p53 point mutations represent potential tumor-specific cytolytic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes. Whether ionizing radiation (IR) alters the immunological properties of cells expressing mutant p53 in respect of the CTL epitope generated by a defined point mutation has not been evaluated.


Mutant p53-expressing syngeneic, nontumor forming BALB/c 3T3 fibroblasts, tumor forming ras-transfected BALB/c 3T3 sarcomas, and DBA/2-derived P815 mastocytoma cells, which differ at the level of minor histocompatibility antigens, were used as cellular vaccines. Cells were either injected with or without prior IR into naive BALB/c mice. Cellular cytotoxicity was assessed after secondary restimulation of effector spleen cells in vitro.


Injection of P815 mastocytoma cells expressing the mutant p53 induced mutation-specific CTL in BALB/c mice irrespective of prior irradiation. However, syngeneic fibroblasts or fibrosarcomas endogenously expressing mutant p53 were able to induce significant mutation-specific CTL only when irradiated prior to injection into BALB/c mice. IR of fibroblasts did not detectably alter the expression of cell surface molecules involved in immune response induction, nor did it alter the short-term in vitro viability of the fibroblasts. Interestingly, radioactively-labeled fibroblasts injected into mice after irradiation showed altered organ distribution, suggesting that the in vivo fate of these cells may play a crucial role in their immunogenicity.


These findings indicate that IR can alter the immunogenicity of syngeneic normal as well as tumor forming fibroblasts in vivo, and support the view that ionizing radiation enhances immunogenicity of cellular tumor vaccines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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