Background: Cytotoxic T cells (CTL) are considered one of the primary effector cell populations in antitumor immunity. Recent studies, however, have demonstrated the critical importance of helper T cells (Th), specifically interferon gamma (IFN gamma)-secreting Th1 cells, either by supporting an appropriate CTL environment or by recruiting other effector cells. We evaluated whether patients with prostate cancer have naturally occurring Th-cell responses specific for two prostate cancer-associated antigens, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP), and whether Th1-type responses to these antigens could be detected.
Methods: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were collected from 80 patients with prostate cancer and 20 male controls without prostate disease. Th-cell responses were evaluated by measuring antigen-specific proliferation. IFN gamma and IL-5 secretion in response to antigen stimulation was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results: T cell proliferative responses specific for PSA and PAP could be detected in patients with prostate cancer. Six percent (5/80) of patients had T cell responses specific for PSA and 11% (9/80) for PAP. T cell responses specific for PSA were more prevalent in patients with metastatic disease (P = 0.02), whereas responses specific for PAP could be detected in patients irrespective of disease stage. IFN gamma-producing Th cells, specific for both PSA and PAP, could be identified in patients with prostate cancer.
Conclusions: Patients with prostate cancer can have detectable Th-cell responses specific for the prostate cancer-associated proteins PSA and PAP. The presence of antigen-specific Th1 immune responses in prostate cancer patients suggests that an immune environment capable of supporting antigen-specific CTL may exist in vivo. Prostate 47:222-229, 2001.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.