Naturally occurring prostate cancer antigen-specific T cell responses of a Th1 phenotype can be detected in patients with prostate cancer

Prostate. 2001 May 15;47(3):222-9. doi: 10.1002/pros.1066.


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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acid Phosphatase / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-5 / blood
  • Interleukin-5 / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Phenotype
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / immunology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism


  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Interleukin-5
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Acid Phosphatase
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen