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J Cell Physiol. 2000 Mar;182(3):323-31.

T-cell recognition of melanoma-associated antigens.

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Unit of Immunotherapy of Human Tumors, Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Milan, Italy.


In this review, we summarize the significant progress that has been made in the identification of melanoma-associated antigens (MAA) recognized by cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL). These antigens belong to three main groups: tumor-associated testis-specific antigens (e.g. , MAGE, BAGE, and GAGE); melanocyte differentiation antigens (e.g., tyrosinase, Melan-A/MART-1); and mutated or aberrantly expressed molecules (e.g, CDK4, MUM-1, beta-catenin). Although strong CTL activity may be induced ex vivo against most of these antigens, often in the presence of excess cytokines and antigen, a clear understanding of the functional status of CTL in vivo and their impact on tumor growth, is still lacking. Several mechanisms are described that potentially contribute to tumor cell evasion of the immune response, suggesting that any antitumor efficacy achieved by immune effectors may be offset by factors that result ultimately in tumor progression. Nevertheless, most of these MAA are currently being investigated as immunizing agents in clinical studies, the conflicting results of which are reviewed. Indeed, the therapeutic potential of MAA has still to be fully exploited and new strategies have to be found in order to achieve an effective and long-lasting in vivo immune control of melanoma growth and progression.

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