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Nat Med. 1998 Jan;4(1):43-9.

Cancer-associated MUC1 mucin inhibits human T-cell proliferation, which is reversible by IL-2.

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Biomira, Inc., Edmonton, AB, Canada.


A number of adenocarcinomas abundantly express and secrete underglycosylated MUC1 mucin. Underglycosylation exposes tandem repeat peptide sequences on cancer-associated MUC1 mucin that are normally cryptic. High levels of MUC1 mucin are correlated with a poor prognosis and immunosuppression in adenocarcinoma patients. In this report we show that cancer-associated MUC1 mucin, affinity-purified from ascites fluids of cancer patients, and synthetic tandem repeats of MUC1 mucin core peptide can suppress human T-cell proliferative responses. This MUC1 mucin-induced suppression of T-cell responses can be reversed by the addition of exogenous IL-2 or anti-CD28 monoclonal antibody. These results are consistent with other studies showing that lymphocytes present in the vicinity of tumor cells are anergic and can be reactivated with exogenous interleukin-2. Overcoming MUC1 mucin-induced immunosuppression with IL-2 combined with active specific immunotherapy might be an effective immunotherapeutic strategy against human adenocarcinomas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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