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J Immunol. 2014 Dec 1;193(11):5723-32. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1400725. Epub 2014 Oct 29.

Tumor-derived α-fetoprotein impairs the differentiation and T cell stimulatory activity of human dendritic cells.

Author information

1
Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213;
2
Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; Department of Immunology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 butterfieldl@upmc.edu.

Abstract

Several tumor-derived factors have been implicated in dendritic cell (DC) dysfunction in cancer patients. α-fetoprotein (AFP) is an oncofetal Ag that is highly expressed in abnormalities of prenatal development and several epithelial cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In HCC patients exhibiting high levels of serum AFP, we observed a lower ratio of myeloid/plasmacytoid circulating DCs compared with patients with low serum AFP levels and healthy donors. To test the effect of AFP on DC differentiation in vitro, peripheral blood monocytes from healthy donors were cultured in the presence of cord blood-derived normal AFP (nAFP) or HCC tumor-derived AFP (tAFP), and DC phenotype and function were assessed. Although the nAFP and tAFP isoforms only differ at one carbohydrate group, low (physiological) levels of tAFP, but not nAFP, significantly inhibited DC differentiation. tAFP-conditioned DCs expressed diminished levels of DC maturation markers, retained a monocyte-like morphology, exhibited limited production of inflammatory mediators, and failed to induce robust T cell proliferative responses. Mechanistic studies revealed that the suppressive activity of tAFP is dependent on the presence of low molecular mass (LMM) species that copurify with tAFP and function equivalently to the LMM fractions of both tumor and nontumor cell lysates. These data reveal the unique ability of tAFP to serve as a chaperone protein for LMM molecules, both endogenous and ubiquitous in nature, which function cooperatively to impair DC differentiation and function. Therefore, novel therapeutic approaches that antagonize the regulatory properties of tAFP will be critical to enhance immunity and improve clinical outcomes.

PMID:
25355916
PMCID:
PMC4239186
DOI:
10.4049/jimmunol.1400725
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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