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J Immunol. 2003 Nov 1;171(9):4898-904.

Monoclonal anti-MAGE-3 CTL responses in melanoma patients displaying tumor regression after vaccination with a recombinant canarypox virus.

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Cellular Genetics Unit, Institute of Cellular Pathology, Université de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.


We have analyzed the T cell responses of HLA-A1 metastatic melanoma patients with detectable disease, following vaccination with a recombinant ALVAC virus, which bears short MAGE-1 and MAGE-3 sequences coding for antigenic peptides presented by HLA-A1. To evaluate the anti-MAGE CTL responses, we resorted to antigenic stimulation of blood lymphocytes under limiting dilution conditions, followed by tetramer analysis and cloning of the tetramer-positive cells. The clones were tested for their specific lytic ability and their TCR sequences were obtained. Four patients who showed tumor regression were analyzed, and an anti-MAGE-3.A1 CTL response was observed in three of these patients. Postvaccination frequencies of anti-MAGE-3.A1 CTL were 3 x 10(-6), 3 x 10(-3), and 3 x 10(-7) of the blood CD8 T cells, respectively. These three responses were monoclonal. No anti-MAGE-1.A1 CTL response was observed. These results indicate that, like peptide immunization, ALVAC immunization produces monoclonal responses. They also suggest that low-level antivaccine CTL responses can initiate a tumor regression process. Taken together, our analysis of anti-MAGE-3.A1 T cell responses following peptide or ALVAC vaccination shows a degree of correlation between CTL response and tumor regression, but firm conclusions will require larger numbers.

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