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J Immunol. 2004 Apr 1;172(7):4599-608.

Treatment of melanoma with 5-fluorouracil or dacarbazine in vitro sensitizes cells to antigen-specific CTL lysis through perforin/granzyme- and Fas-mediated pathways.

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  • 1Division of Hematology-Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Several factors may influence sensitivity of melanoma cells to CTL lysis. One is the avidity of the CTL TCR. A second is that certain cytotoxic drugs have been reported to sensitize cancer cells to CTL lysis through Fas-mediated apoptosis. In this study, we examined whether antineoplastic agents 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and dacarbazine (DTIC) sensitize melanoma cells to lysis of G209 peptide-specific CTL. Our results show that CTL generated from PBMC are HLA-A2 restricted and gp100 specific. Treatment with 5-FU or DTIC sensitized melanoma cells to lysis of G209-specific CTL. Most importantly, 5-FU- or DTIC-treated melanoma cells also became sensitive to low-avidity CTL, which per se are less cytolytic to melanomas. We sought to identify apoptotic pathways mediating this effect. The enhanced cytolysis was mediated through the perforin/granzyme pathway. Although 5-FU up-regulated FasR expression on melanoma cells, sensitization was not blocked by anti-Fas Ab, and the G209-specific CTL was Fas ligand (FasL) negative. However, when G209-specific CTL were stimulated to express FasL, FasL signaling also contributed to enhanced cytolysis. DTIC treatment, which did not increase FasR expression, also sensitized FasL-mediated killing induced by neutralizing anti-Fas Ab. For CD95L-positive G209-specific CTL, the sensitization was primarily mediated through the perforin/granzyme pathway regardless of up-regulation of FasR. The findings demonstrate that cytotoxic drug-mediated sensitization primes both perforin/granzyme and Fas-mediated killing by melanoma-specific CTL. Considering that most of autoreactive antitumor CTL are low avidity, the findings provide experimental basis for understanding cytotoxic and immunologic therapeutic synergy in melanoma.

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