Early immunization induces persistent tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells against an immunodominant epitope and promotes lifelong control of pancreatic tumor progression in SV40 tumor antigen transgenic mice.

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Antigens-Neoplasm, CD8-Positive-T-Lymphocytes, Diabetes-Mellitus, Disease-Progression, Epitopes-T-Lymphocyte, Immune-Tolerance, Immunization, Insulin, Leukemic-Infiltration, Mice-Transgenic, Pancreatic-Neoplasms, Promoter-Regions-(Genetics), Rats, Receptors-Antigen-T-Cell, Simian-virus-40, Survival-Rate, Time-Factors

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J Immunol 2006 Sep; 177(5):3089-99.


The ability to recruit the host's CD8+ T lymphocytes (T(CD8)) against cancer is often limited by the development of peripheral tolerance toward the dominant tumor-associated Ags. Because multiple epitopes derived from a given tumor Ag (T Ag) can be targeted by T(CD8), vaccine approaches should be directed toward those T(CD8) that are more likely to survive under conditions of persistent Ag expression. In this study, we investigated the effect of peripheral tolerance on the endogenous T(CD8) response toward two epitopes, designated epitopes I and IV, from the SV40 large T Ag. Using rat insulin promoter (RIP) 1-Tag4 transgenic mice that express T Ag from the RIP and develop pancreatic insulinomas, we demonstrate that epitope IV- but not epitope I-specific T(CD8) are maintained long term in tumor-bearing RIP1-Tag4 mice. Even large numbers of TCR-transgenic T cells specific for epitope I were rapidly eliminated from RIP1-Tag4 mice after adoptive transfer and recognition of the endogenous T Ag. Importantly, immunization of RIP1-Tag4 mice at 5 wk of age against epitope IV resulted in complete protection from tumor progression over a 2-year period despite continued expression of T Ag in the pancreas. This extensive control of tumor progression was associated with the persistence of functional epitope IV-specific T(CD8) within the pancreas for the lifetime of the mice without the development of diabetes. This study indicates that an equilibrium is reached in which immune surveillance for spontaneous cancer can be achieved for the lifespan of the host while maintaining normal organ function.