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Adv Cancer Res. 2003;90:157-77.

Immunity to cancer through immune recognition of altered self: studies with melanoma.

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Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences and Medical School of Cornell University, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA.


The adaptive immune system is capable of recognizing cancer through T- and B-cell receptors. However, priming adaptive immunity against self antigens is potentially a difficult task. Presentation of altered self to the immune system is a strategy to elicit immunity against poorly immunogenic antigens. We have shown that immunization with conserved paralogues of tumor antigens can induce adaptive immunity against self antigens expressed by cancer. Remarkably, cancer immunity elicited by closely related paralogues can generate distinct adaptive immune responses, either antibody or T-cell dependent. Cancer immunity induced by xenogeneic immunization follows multiple and alternative pathways. The effector phase of tumor immunity can be mediated by cytotoxic T cells or macrophages and perhaps natural killer cells for antibody-dependent immunity. Helper CD4+ T cells are typically, but not always, required to generate immunity. Autoimmunity is frequently observed following immunization. Cancer immunity and autoimmunity use overlapping mechanisms, and therefore they are difficult to uncouple, but distinct pathways can be discerned that open the eventual possibility of uncoupling tumor immunity from autoimmunity. Studies examining the molecular basis for immunogenicity of conserved paralogues are facilitating the development of new strategies to rationally design vaccines that trigger adaptive immune responses to cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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