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Cancer Res. 2006 May 15;66(10):5452-60.

Vaccination with human HER-2/neu (435-443) CTL peptide induces effective antitumor immunity against HER-2/neu-expressing tumor cells in vivo.

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Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Center, St. Savas Cancer Hospital, Athens, Greece.


HER-2/neu is a self-antigen expressed by tumors and nonmalignant epithelial tissues. The possibility of self-tolerance to HER-2/neu-derived epitopes has raised questions concerning their utility in antitumor immunotherapy. Altered HER-2/neu peptide ligands capable of eliciting enhanced immunity to tumor-associated HER-2/neu epitopes may circumvent this problem. The human CTL peptide HER-2/neu (435-443) [hHER-2(9(435))] represents a xenogeneic altered peptide ligand of its mouse homologue, differing by one amino acid residue at position 4. In contrast to mHER-2(9(435)), vaccination of HLA-A*0201 transgenic (HHD) mice with hHER-2(9(435)) significantly increased the frequency of mHER-2(9(435))-specific CTL and also induced strong protective and therapeutic immunity against the transplantable ALC tumor cell line transfected to coexpress HLA-A*0201 and hHER-2/neu or rHER-2/neu. Similar results were also obtained with wild-type C57BL/6 mice inoculated with HER-2/neu transfectants of ALC. Adoptive transfer of CD8(+) CTL from mice immunized with hHER-2(9(435)) efficiently protected naive syngeneic mice inoculated with ALC tumors. In conclusion, our results show that HER-2(9(435)) serves as a tumor rejection molecule. They also propose a novel approach for generating enhanced immunity against a self-HER-2/neu CTL epitope by vaccinating with xenogeneic altered peptide ligands and provide useful insights for the design of improved peptide-based vaccines for the treatment of patients with HER-2/neu-overexpressing tumors.

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