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Cancer Res. 2009 May 15;69(10):4335-45. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-3726. Epub 2009 May 12.

The CD4(+) T-cell response of melanoma patients to a MAGE-A3 peptide vaccine involves potential regulatory T cells.

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Université Catholique de Louvain, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Ltd, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.


Melanoma patients were injected with various vaccines containing a MAGE-A3 peptide presented by HLA-DP4. Anti-MAGE-A3.DP4 T cells were not detectable in the blood before vaccination, but their frequencies after vaccination ranged from 2 x 10(-6) to 2 x 10(-3) among the CD4(+) blood T lymphocytes of the patients. The CD4(+) blood T lymphocytes that stained ex vivo with HLA-DP4 tetramers folded with the MAGE-A3 peptide were selected by flow cytometry and amplified under clonal conditions. About 5% of the CD4(+) T-cell clones that recognized the MAGE-A3.DP4 antigen had a CD25(+) phenotype in the resting state. These CD25(+) clones had a high capacity to suppress the proliferation of another T-cell clone after peptide stimulation in vitro. Most of them had high FOXP3 expression in the resting state and an unmethylated FOXP3 intron 1. They produced active transforming growth factor-beta but none of cytokines IFN-gamma, interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-4, IL-5, and IL-10. About 20% of CD25(-) clones had a significant but lower suppressive activity. Most of the CD25(-) clonal populations contained cells that expressed FOXP3 in the resting state, but FOXP3 demethylation was not observed. We conclude that MAGE-A3.DP4 vaccination can produce CD4(+) T cells that may exert regulatory T-cell function in vivo.

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