Therapeutic limitations in tumor-specific CD8+ memory T cell engraftment

Oliver F. Bathe, Nava Dalyot-Herman, Thomas R. Malek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Adoptive immunotherapy with cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) represents an alternative approach to treating solid tumors. Ideally, this would confer long-term protection against tumor. We previously demonstrated that in vitro-generated tumor-specific CTL from the ovalbumin (OVA)-specific OT-I T cell receptor transgenic mouse persisted long after adoptive transfer as memory T cells. When recipient mice were challenged with the OVA-expressing E.G7 thymoma, tumor growth was delayed and sometimes prevented. The reasons for therapeutic failures were not clear. Methods: OT-I CTL were adoptively transferred to C57BL/6 mice 21 - 28 days prior to tumor challenge. At this time, the donor cells had the phenotypical and functional characteristics of memory CD8+ T cells. Recipients which developed tumor despite adoptive immunotherapy were analyzed to evaluate the reason(s) for therapeutic failure. Results: Dose-response studies demonstrated that the degree of tumor protection was directly proportional to the number of OT-I CTL adoptively transferred. At a low dose of OT-I CTL, therapeutic failure was attributed to insufficient numbers of OT-I T cells that persisted in vivo, rather than mechanisms that actively suppressed or anergized the OT-I T cells. In recipients of high numbers of OT-I CTL, the E.G7 tumor that developed was shown to be resistant to fresh OT-I CTL when examined ex vivo. Furthermore, these same tumor cells no longer secreted a detectable level of OVA. In this case, resistance to immunotherapy was secondary to selection of clones of E.G7 that expressed a lower level of tumor antigen. Conclusions: Memory engraftment with tumor-specific CTL provides long-term protection against tumor. However, there are several limitations to this immunotherapeutic strategy, especially when targeting a single antigen. This study illustrates the importance of administering large numbers of effectors to engraft sufficiently efficacious immunologic memory. It also demonstrates the importance of targeting several antigens when developing vaccine strategies for cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21
JournalBMC Cancer
StatePublished - Jul 28 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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