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J Exp Med. 1998 Dec 21;188(12):2357-68.

The central role of CD4(+) T cells in the antitumor immune response.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


The induction of optimal systemic antitumor immunity involves the priming of both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells specific for tumor-associated antigens. The role of CD4(+) T helper cells (Th) in this response has been largely attributed to providing regulatory signals required for the priming of major histocompatibility complex class I restricted CD8(+) cytolytic T lymphocytes, which are thought to serve as the dominant effector cell mediating tumor killing. However, analysis of the effector phase of tumor rejection induced by vaccination with irradiated tumor cells transduced to secrete granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor indicates a far broader role for CD4(+) T cells in orchestrating the host response to tumor. This form of immunization leads to the simultaneous induction of Th1 and Th2 responses, both of which are required for maximal systemic antitumor immunity. Cytokines produced by these CD4(+) T cells activate eosinophils as well as macrophages that produce both superoxide and nitric oxide. Both of these cell types then collaborate within the site of tumor challenge to cause its destruction.

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