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Cell Mol Life Sci. 1998 Mar;54(3):263-71.

Activation of cytotoxic T cells by solid tumours?

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Lausanne, Switzerland.


Tumour-specific cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) are among the best-defined biological anticancer weapons. Nevertheless, they often fail to control tumour growth in vivo. Many reasons for this have been evoked: tumours may actively inhibit CTLs, or may protect themselves from CTL recognition by various means. However, one does not necessarily need to postulate such active immune evasion mechanisms specifically acquired by tumour cells. In this review we argue that the failure of immune protection is due to the intrinsic inability of tumours to activate an effective immune response, and that many tumours are similar to normal tissues in this respect. It is striking to see that the majority of the so-called immune escape mechanisms are not specifically acquired by selected tumour cells, but are common mechanisms shared between solid tumours and normal, healthy tissues. Immune responses are poor because tumour antigens do not efficiently localize to lymph follicles in lymphoid tissues, and are not efficiently presented to CTLs in an immunogenic context. The fact that tumours do not induce CTLs but are often susceptible to lymphocyte-mediated cytotoxicity indicates that more intensified immunization protocols should result in improved clinical outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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