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Eur J Immunol. 2005 Jan;35(1):66-75.

Peripheral T cell tolerance occurs early during spontaneous prostate cancer development and can be rescued by dendritic cell immunization.

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Cancer Immunotherapy and Gene Therapy Program, Istituto Scientifico H San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.


In the tumor-prone transgenic adenocarcinoma mouse prostate (TRAMP) mouse model we followed the fate of the immune response against the SV40 large T antigen (Tag) selectively expressed in the prostate epithelium during the endogenous transformation from normal cells to tumors. Young (5-7-week-old) male TRAMP mice, despite a dim and patchy expression of Tag overlapping foci of mouse prostate intraepithelial neoplasia, displayed a strong Tag-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response after an intradermal injection of peptide-pulsed dendritic cells (DC). This response was weaker than the one found in vaccinated wild-type littermates, and was characterized by a reduced frequency and avidity of Tag-specific CTL. Early DC vaccination also subverted the profound state of peripheral tolerance typically found in TRAMP mice older than 9-10 weeks. The DC-induced CTL response indeed was still detectable in TRAMP mice of 16 weeks, and was associated with histology evidence of reduced disease progression. Our findings suggest that tumor antigens are handled as self antigens, and peripheral tolerance is associated with in situ antigen overexpression and cancer progression. Our data also support a relevant role for DC-based vaccines in controlling the induction of peripheral tolerance to tumor antigens.

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