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Cancer Immun. 2001 Mar 30;1:5.

Identification of a tumor-associated contact-dependent activity which reversibly downregulates cytolytic function of CD8+ T cells.

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Center for Immunotherapy of Cancer and Infectious Diseases, Mail Code 1601, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT 06030, USA.


Tumors elicit an immune response in hosts and yet, paradoxically, often grow progressively with fatal consequences. This phenomenon has been attributed to the possible expression by tumor cells of immunomodulatory factors that overcome the anti-tumor effector functions of both specific and non-specific immune cells. This study reports on the ability of the methylcholanthrene-induced fibrosarcoma, Meth A, as well as other tumors of varied histological origins to downregulate the lytic activity of CD8+ T cells. The suppressive activity is contact-dependent and reversible. As tumor-bearing hosts are rarely immunosuppressed systemically, these findings may explain how local events within the tumor bed subvert the specific anti-tumor immune response.

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