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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Transforming growth factor-beta induces apoptosis in antigen-specific CD4+ T cells prepared for adoptive immunotherapy.

Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), found at the site of most tumors, has been recognized as one of the mechanisms involved in tumor immunological escape. To evaluate its impact on adoptive immunotherapy against cancer, we examined the susceptibility of tumor-specific T cells to TGF-beta in the setting of these T cells being prepared for adoptive transfer. Hepatitis B virus (HBV)-specific CD4(+) T cells were ex vivo generated by activating with HBV-transfected dendritic cells and selecting with antibodies to CD25 activation molecules, and then expanded with antibodies to CD3/CD28. These T cells expressed higher levels of the type II TGF-beta receptor than nai;ve T cells and exhibited enhanced apoptosis when exposed to TGF-beta. The underlying apoptotic pathway was linked to the dissipation of the mitochondrial inner membrane potential and activation of caspase-9. The absence of caspase-8 activity in TGF-beta-treated T cells suggests that the death receptor system may not be involved in this type of apoptosis. Interleukin-2 (IL-2), which is concomitantly administered with tumor-specific T cells in adoptive immunotherapy, was unable to protect HBV-specific CD4(+) T cells from the pro-apoptotic effect of TGF-beta when added simultaneously with TGF-beta. Interesting, IL-2-pretreated T cells displayed the type II TGF-beta receptor at lower levels and were more resistant to TGF-beta. Together, our findings indicate that the effectiveness of adoptive cancer immunotherapy may be impaired by tumor-derived TGF-beta and appropriate manipulation of exogenous IL-2 might overcome this hurdle.[1]


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