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Am J Pathol. 2001 Sep;159(3):817-24.

Human leukocyte antigen G up-regulation in lung cancer associates with high-grade histology, human leukocyte antigen class I loss and interleukin-10 production.

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Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Immune evasion in lung cancer results from both structural and functional alterations of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules and the local release of immunosuppressive cytokines. Recent data suggest that HLA-G, a nonclassical class Ib molecule, is involved in immune evasion by tumor cells. We sought to determine whether HLA-G could contribute to immunescape in lung cancer. All of 19 tumor specimens examined demonstrated detectable membrane-bound (HLA-G1), as well as soluble (HLA-G5) isoform transcription. Nine of 34 (26%) tumors were positive by immunohistochemistry using monoclonal antibody (mAb) 4H84, recognizing all denatured HLA-G isoforms, of which six were positive using mAb 16G1, recognizing soluble HLA-G. HLA-G immunoreactivity correlated with high-grade histology, with HLA-G being preferentially expressed on large-cell carcinomas. In these patients, loss of classical HLA class I molecules was observed to associate with HLA-G protein up-regulation. Moreover, we found interleukin-10 expressed in 15 of 34 (44%) tumors, and in most of the HLA-G-positive cases (7 of 9), suggesting up-modulation of HLA-G by interleukin-10. It is conceivable that HLA-G expression in lung cancer might be one of the ways how the tumor down-regulates host immune response, in addition to interleukin-10 production and HLA class I loss.

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