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J Immunol. 2007 Feb 1;178(3):1268-76.

Tolerization of tumor-specific T cells despite efficient initial priming in a primary murine model of prostate cancer.

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Tumor Immunity and Tolerance Section, Laboratory of Molecular Immunoregulation, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Frederick, MD 21701, USA.

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  • J Immunol. 2007 Nov 15;179(10):7184.


In this report, we studied T cell responses to a prostate cancer Ag by adoptively transferring tumor Ag-specific T cells into prostate tumor-bearing mice. Our findings demonstrate that CD8(+) T cells initially encountered tumor Ag in the lymph node and underwent an abortive proliferative response. Upon isolation from the tumor, the residual tumor-specific T cells were functionally tolerant of tumor Ag as measured by their inability to degranulate and secrete IFN-gamma and granzyme B. We next sought to determine whether providing an ex vivo-matured, peptide-pulsed dendritic cell (DC) vaccine could overcome the tolerizing mechanisms of tumor-bearing transgenic adenocarcinoma of the mouse prostate model mice. We demonstrate that tumor Ag-specific T cells were protected from tolerance following provision of the DC vaccine. Concurrently, there was a reduction in prostate tumor size. However, even when activated DCs initially present tumor Ag, T cells persisting within the tolerogenic tumor environment gradually lost Ag reactivity. These results suggest that even though a productive antitumor response can be initiated by a DC vaccine, the tolerizing environment created by the tumor still exerts suppressive effects on the T cells. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that when trying to elicit an effective antitumor immune response, two obstacles must be considered: to maintain tumor Ag responsiveness, T cells must be efficiently primed to overcome tumor Ag presented in a tolerizing manner and protected from the suppressive mechanisms of the tumor microenvironment.

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