Peripheral burst of tumor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes and infiltration of metastatic lesions by memory CD8+ T cells in melanoma patients receiving interleukin 12

Roberta Mortarini, Alessandra Borri, Gabrina Tragni, Ilaria Bersani, Claudia Vegetti, Emilio Bajetta, Silvana Pilotti, Vincenzo Cerundolo, Andrea Anichini

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Systemic effects on T-cell-mediated antitumor immunity, on expression of T-cell adhesion/homing receptors, and on the promotion of T-cell infiltration of neoplastic tissue may represent key steps for the efficacy of immunological therapies of cancer. In this study, we investigated whether these processes can be promoted by s.c. administration of low-dose (0.5 μg/kg) recombinant human interleukin-12 (rHuIL-12) to metastatic melanoma patients. A striking burst of HLA-restricted CTL precursors (CTLp) directed to autologous tumor was documented in peripheral blood by a high-efficiency limiting dilution analysis technique within a few days after rHuIL-12 injection. A similar burst in peripheral CTLp frequency was observed even when looking at response to a single tumor-derived peptide, as documented by an increase in Melan-A/Mart-127-35-specific CTLp in two HLA-A*0201+ patients by limiting dilution analysis and by staining peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) with HLA-A*0201-melanoma antigen-A/melanoma antigen recognized by T cells (Melan-A/Mart)-1 tetrameric complexes. The CTLp burst was associated, in PBLs, with enhanced expression of T-cell adhesion/homing receptors CD11a/CD18, CD49d, CD44, and with increased proportion of cutaneous lymphocyte antigen (CLA)-positive T cells. This was matched by a marked increase, in serum, of soluble forms of the endothelial cell adhesion molecules E-selectin, vascular cell adhesion molecules (VCAM)-1 and intercellular adhesion molecules (ICAM)-1. Infiltration of neoplastic tissue by CD8+ T cells with a memory and cytolytic phenotype was found by immunohistochemistry in eight of eight posttreatment metastatic lesions but not in five of five pretreatment metastatic lesions from three patients. Increased tumor necrosis and/or fibrosis were also found in several posttherapy lesions of two of three patients in comparison with pretherapy metastases. These results provide the first evidence that rHuIL-12 can boost the frequency of circulating antitumor CTLp in tumor patients, enhances expression of ligand receptor pairs contributing to the lymphocyte function- associated antigen-1/ICAM-1, very late antigen-4/VCAM-1, and CLA/E-selectin adhesion pathways, and promotes infiltration of neoplastic lesions by CD8+ memory T cells in a clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3559-3568
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Research
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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