Evidence that specific T lymphocytes may participate in the elimination of chronic myelogenous leukemia

Nat Med. 2000 Sep;6(9):1018-23. doi: 10.1038/79526.


Although the immune system has long been implicated in the control of cancer, evidence for specific and efficacious immune responses in human cancer has been lacking. In the case of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), either allogeneic bone marrow transplant (BMT) or interferon-alpha2b (IFN-alpha2b) therapy can result in complete remission, but the mechanism for prolonged disease control is unknown and may involve immune anti-leukemic responses. We previously demonstrated that PR1, a peptide derived from proteinase 3, is a potential target for CML-specific T cells. Here we studied 38 CML patients treated with allogeneic BMT, IFN- alpha2b or chemotherapy to look for PR1-specific T cells using PR1/HLA-A*0201 tetrameric complexes. There was a strong correlation between the presence of PR1-specific T cells and clinical responses after IFN-alpha and allogeneic BMT. This provides for the first time direct evidence of a role for T-cell immunity in clearing malignant cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Circulation
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Graft vs Leukemia Effect
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / immunology*
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / therapy
  • Myeloblastin
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology
  • Remission Induction
  • Serine Endopeptidases / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*


  • Interferon-alpha
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • Myeloblastin