Expression of CD3-ζ on T-cells in primary cervical carcinoma and in metastasis-positive and -negative pelvic lymph nodes

T. D. De Gruijl, H. J. Bontkes, F. Peccatori, M. P W Gallee, Th J M Helmerhorst, R. H M Verheijen, J. Aarbiou, W. M C Mulder, J. M M Walboomers, C. J L M Meijer, N. Van De Vange, R. J. Scheper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lymphocytic infiltrate is often present in cervical cancer lesions, possibly reflecting an ongoing, but ineffective, immune response to the tumour. Recently, evidence has accumulated for systemically impaired T-cell functions in cancer patients, associated with decreased expression of signal-transducing zeta (ζ) chain dimer molecules on circulating T-cells and NK-cells. Here, we report on the intralesional downregulation of ζ chain expression on T-cells in cervical carcinoma. Paraffin-embedded or snap-frozen sections from 24 different cervical cancer specimens were studied. Paraffin-embedded tumour-positive (n = 7) and tumour-negative (n = 15) pelvic lymph nodes were also included in the study. Immunostaining was performed on consecutive sections with antibodies specific for CD3-ε or the CD3-associated ζ chain dimer. Antigen retrieval by sodium citrate/microwave treatment was essential for ζ staining of paraffin sections. The amount of ζ positive cells was quantitated and related to the number of CD3-ε+ cells in corresponding tumour areas. Of the 24 cervical cancer specimens studied, ζ chain dimer expression was reduced in seven cases and strongly reduced in the other 17 samples. In tonsil control sections, CD3-ε and CD3-ζ were always co-expressed in almost equal numbers. Also, both tumour-negative and -positive lymph nodes showed ζ chain expression which equalled that of CD3-ε expression. These data indicate that a decreased expression of signal-transducing ζ molecules on tumour-infiltrating T-cells is frequent in cervical cancer. The apparently unimpaired ζ chain expression within draining lymph nodes suggests that local tumour-derived factors at the primary site are instrumental in ζ chain down-regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1127-1132
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • ζ chain
  • Cervical carcinoma
  • Cervical dysplasia
  • T-lymphocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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