Differential recognition of a BCR/ABL peptide by lymphocytes from normal donors and chronic myeloid leukemia patients

Carla Bertazzoli, Edoardo Marchesi, Lorena Passoni, Rossella Barni, Fernando Ravagnani, Claudia Lombardo, Gian Marco Corneo, Pietro Pioltelli, Enrico Pogliani, Carlo Gambacorti-Passerini

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The BCR/ABL oncogenic fusion protein transforms normal bone marrow stem cells into neoplastic cells. It has been shown that peptides derived from the junctional region of this oncogenic fusion protein can be recognized by human T-lymphocytes obtained from normal donors. In this study, we investigated the immunogenicity in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) of a 17 mer b3/a2 Bcr/abl peptide (B/A1), which was shown to induce proliferative responses in lymphocytes from normal donors. A total of 56 CML patients in chronic phase were studied. Twenty-two patients were studied at diagnosis without any treatment (group I). Fourteen patients were receiving IFN (group II), 14 patients were being treated with hydroxyurea (group III), and 6 patients were on different regimens (group IV). Patients were initially assessed for general immunological competence using both in vivo and in vitro assays. Patients were also selected for the expression of HLA-DR0401, the HLA specificity known to present peptide B/A1 to CD4 lymphocytes. With the exception of the six patients in group IV, the results of all these assays (in vitro phytohemagglutinin/tetanus toxoid responses, in vivo skin reaction to ubiquitous antigens) in CML patients did not significantly differ from those obtained in normal donors, thus excluding the presence of generalized immunosuppression. Eight patients with HLA-DR0401 and a b3/a2 type of fusion were identified and further studied. In these eight patients dendritic cells were obtained from adherent peripheral blood mononuclear cells and used to stimulate CD4 lymphocytes. No patient developed a specific response to the bcr/abl peptide, although patients' lymphocytes proliferated in response to a promiscuous tetanus toxoid peptide in all but one case. In contrast, response to the bcr/abl peptide was observed in seven of eight HLA-DR0401 healthy donors tested. These data suggest that immunocompetent, HLA-DR0401+ CML patients are unable to respond to peptide B/A1, at difference from healthy donors. The implication of these results for the immunotherapy of CML is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1931-1935
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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