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Blood. 2005 Nov 1;106(9):2995-3003. Epub 2005 Jul 19.

Adoptive transfer of gene-engineered CD4+ helper T cells induces potent primary and secondary tumor rejection.

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Cancer Immunology Program, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Locked Bag 1, A'Beckett St, East Melbourne, 8006, Victoria, Australia.


Because CD4+ T cells play a key role in aiding cellular immune responses, we wanted to assess whether increasing numbers of gene-engineered antigen-restricted CD4+ T cells could enhance an antitumor response mediated by similarly gene-engineered CD8+ T cells. In this study, we have used retroviral transduction to generate erbB2-reactive mouse T-cell populations composed of various proportions of CD4+ and CD8+ cells and then determined the antitumor reactivity of these mixtures. Gene-modified CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were shown to specifically secrete Tc1 (T cytotoxic-1) or Tc2 cytokines, proliferate, and lyse erbB2+ tumor targets following antigen ligation in vitro. In adoptive transfer experiments using severe combined immunodeficient (scid) mice, we demonstrated that injection of equivalent numbers of antigen-specific engineered CD8+ and CD4+ T cells led to significant improvement in survival of mice bearing established lung metastases compared with transfer of unfractionated (largely CD8+) engineered T cells. Transferred CD4+ T cells had to be antigen-specific (not just activated) and secrete interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) to potentiate the antitumor effect. Importantly, antitumor responses in these mice correlated with localization and persistence of gene-engineered T cells at the tumor site. Strikingly, mice that survived primary tumor challenge could reject a subsequent rechallenge. Overall, this study has highlighted the therapeutic potential of using combined transfer of antigen-specific gene-modified CD8+ and CD4+ T cells to significantly enhance T-cell adoptive transfer strategies for cancer therapy.

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