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Oncoimmunology. 2013 May 1;2(5):e24271. Epub 2013 Apr 1.

Functional OCT4-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in healthy controls and ovarian cancer patients.

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Department of Tumor Immunology; Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences; Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre; Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


The identification of growth and differentiation pathways that are responsible for the proliferation and survival of cancer stem cells (CSCs) has opened avenues for the discovery of novel therapeutic targets. In the initial phase of an anticancer immune response, T cells specific for tumor-associated antigens develop in patients and, at least under selected circumstances, are able to eliminate malignant cells. However, it remains unknown whether CSC-specific T cells are also operational. We found naturally occurring multifunctional CD4+ and CD8+ T cells specific for the stem cell marker OCT4 among the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of both healthy individuals and ovarian cancer patients. Moreover, lymphocytes isolated from the ascites of patients affected by ovarian malignancies also contained OCT4-specific T cells. OCT4-reactive CD4+ T cells did not produce interferon γ (IFNγ) and IFNγ-inducible protein 10 (IP-10) but were capable of proliferation upon stimulation with dendritic cells (DCs) loaded with an OCT4-derived peptide or OCT4 mRNA. OCT4-reactive CD8+ cells did not proliferate in response to a similar challenge, yet produced IP-10 as well as sufficient amounts of IFNγ to induce IP-10 . Furthermore, CD8+ cytotoxic T cells were able to release their lysosomal components, as indicated by the mobilization of CD107a. These results demonstrate the existence of anti-CSC specific T cells in ovarian cancer patients.


CD4; CD8; IP-10; ovarian cancer; proliferation; stem cell markers

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