Differentiation of CD8+ T cells at the tumor site toward effector and memory stages may represent a key step for the efficacy of antitumor response developing naturally or induced through immunotherapy. To address this issue, CD8+ T lymphocytes from tumor-invaded (n = 142) and tumor-free (n = 42) lymph nodes removed from the same nodal basin of melanoma patients were analyzed for the expression of CCR7, CD45RA, perforin, and granzyme B. By hierarchical cluster analysis, CD8+ T cells from all tumor-free lymph nodes and from 56% of the tumor-invaded lymph node samples fell in the same cluster, characterized mainly by CCR7+ CD45RA +/- cytotoxic factor-cells. The remaining three clusters contained only samples from tumor-invaded lymph nodes and showed a progressive shift of the CD8+ T cell population toward CCR7- CD45RA -/+ perforin+ granzyme B+ differentiation stages. Distinct CD8+ T cell maturation stages, as defined by CCR7 vs CD45RA and by functional assays, were identified even in melanoma- or viral Ag-specific T cells from invaded lymph nodes by HLA tetramer analysis. Culture for 7 days of CCR7+ perforin- CD8+ T cells from tumor-invaded lymph nodes with IL-2 or IL-15, but not IL-7, promoted, mainly in CCR7+CD45RA- cells, proliferation coupled to differentiation to the CCR7- perforin+ stage and acquisition of melanoma Ag-specific effector functions. Taken together, these results indicate that CD8+ T cells differentiated toward CCR7 - cytotoxic factor+ stages are present in tumor-invaded, but not in tumor-free, lymph nodes of a relevant fraction of melanoma patients and suggest that cytokines such as IL-2 and IL-15 may be exploited to promote Ag-independent maturation of anti-tumor CD8+ T cells.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Immunology|
|Publication status||Published - Aug 15 2003|
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