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J Transl Med. 2005 Jan 19;3(1):3.

T cell responses against tumor associated antigens and prognosis in colorectal cancer patients.

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Medical Department III, Hematology, Oncology, and Transfusion Medicine, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany.



Spontaneous T cell responses against specific tumor-associated antigens (TAA) are frequently detected in peripheral blood of tumor patients of various histiotypes. However, little is known about whether these circulating, spontaneously occurring, TAA-reactive T cells influence the clinical course of disease.


Fifty-four HLA-A2 positive colorectal cancer patients had been analyzed for the presence of T cell responses against epitopes derived from the TAA Ep-CAM, her-2/neu, and CEA either by ELISPOT assay or by intracellular cytokine staining. Then, Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was performed comparing T-cell-responders and T-cell-non-responders. For comparison, a group of T-cell-non-responders was compiled stringently matched to T-cell-responders based on clinical criteria and also analyzed for survival.


Sixteen out of 54 patients had a detectable T cell response against at least one of the three tested TAA. Two out of 21 patients (9.5%) with limited stage of disease (UICC I and II) and 14 out of 33 patients (42.4%) with advanced disease (UICC III and IV) were T cell response positive. Comparing all T-cell-responders (n = 16) and all T-cell-non-responders (n = 38), no survival difference was found. In an attempt to reduce the influence of confounding clinical factors, we then compared 16 responders and 16 non-responders in a matched group survival analysis; and again no survival difference was found (p = 0.7).


In summary, we found no evidence that spontaneous peripheral T cell responses against HLA-A2-binding epitopes of CEA, her-2/neu and Ep-CAM are a strong prognostic factor for survival.

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