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Cancer Res. 2003 Aug 1;63(15):4481-9.

Disease stage variation in CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell reactivity to the receptor tyrosine kinase EphA2 in patients with renal cell carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


We have evaluated CD8+ and CD4+ T-cell responses against a new tumor-associated antigen, the receptor tyrosine kinase EphA2, which is broadly expressed in diverse cancer histologies and is frequently overexpressed in advanced stage/metastatic disease. We report herein that EphA2 is overexpressed in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) cell lines and clinical specimens of RCC, and find that the highest levels of EphA2 are consistently found in the most advanced stages of the disease. We identified and synthesized five putative HLA class I-binding and three class II-binding peptides derived from EphA2 that might serve as targets for immune reactivity. Each peptide induced specific, tumor-reactive CD8+ or CD4+T-cell responses as measured using IFN-gamma enzyme-linked immunospot assays. The EphA2 peptides elicited relatively weak responses from CD8+ T cells derived from normal healthy volunteers or from RCC patients with active disease. In marked contrast, immune reactivity to EphA2-derived epitopes was greatly enhanced in CD8+ T cells that had been isolated from patients who were rendered disease-free, after surgery. Furthermore, enzyme-linked immunospot analyses demonstrated prominent EphA2-restricted T-helper 1-type CD4+ T cell activity in patients with early stage disease, whereas T-helper 2-type and T regulatory-type responses predominated in patients with more advanced forms of RCC. These data suggest that the immune system of cancer patients actively monitors EphA2-derived epitopes, and that the magnitude and character of T-cell responses to EphA2 epitopes may convey much-needed predictive information about disease stage and outcome.

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