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Blood. 2004 Oct 1;104(7):2124-33. Epub 2004 Jun 10.

In a model of tumor dormancy, long-term persistent leukemic cells have increased B7-H1 and B7.1 expression and resist CTL-mediated lysis.

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Unité INSERM 524, Institut de Recherche sur le Cancer de Lille, Lille, France.


In tumor dormancy, tumor cells persist in the host over a long period of time but do not grow. We investigated in the DA1-3b mouse model of acute myeloid leukemia how leukemic cells could persist for months in spite of an effective antileukemic immune response. Mice were immunized with irradiated interleukin 12 (IL12)- or CD154-transduced DA1-3b cells, challenged with wild-type DA1-3b cells, and randomly killed during 1-year follow-up. Quantification of residual disease 1 year after challenge showed that persistent leukemic cells represented less than 0.02% of spleen cells in most animals. These residual cells were still able to kill naive hosts, even when isolated after 1 year of persistence. Persistent leukemic cells were more resistant to specific cytotoxic T-cell (CTL)-mediated killing and had enhanced B7-H1 and B7.1 expression proportional to the time they had persisted in the host. Blocking B7-H1 or B7.1/cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen (CTLA-4) interaction enhanced CTL-mediated killing of the persistent cells, and blocking B7-H1, B7.1, or CTLA-4 in vivo prolonged survival of naive mice injected with persistent leukemic cells. Thus, escape of leukemic cells from tumor immunity via overexpression of B7-H1 or B7.1 might represent a new mechanism of tumor dormancy in acute leukemia.

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