Cytotoxic T lymphocyte mediated recognition of human pancreatic cancer cells

Int J Cancer. 2002 May 1;99(1):88-92. doi: 10.1002/ijc.10280.


T lymphocytes play an important role in tumor rejection and their response to human malignant melanoma has been well documented. In contrast, the existence of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) to pancreatic cancer remains unclear. Tumor-associated lymphocytes (TAL) and peripheral blood monocytes (PBMC) were isolated from pancreatic cancer patients. Tumor-specific CTL were generated from TAL and PBMC using solid-phase anti-CD3, low-dose IL-2 (50 IU/ml) and repetitive autologous tumor stimulation. The specificity of CTL was tested in standard cytotoxicity assays using autologous tumor cells, autologous fibroblasts when available, several allogeneic pancreatic tumor cells and the NK-sensitive cell line K562. Anti-HLA-Class I MAb, W6/32, was used to demonstrate that tumor-specific CTL were HLA-Class I restricted. HLA-molecules of human pancreatic cancer cells were washed out using acid elution. Eight consecutive, histologically confirmed pancreatic cancer specimen as well as peripheral blood mononuclear cells were analyzed. CTL were capable of lysing autologous tumor cells significantly after 3 stimulations with autologous tumor cells. T cell mediated recognition was HLA-Class I restricted as shown by incubation with MAb anti-HLA-Class I. In case of HLA-A2 positivity, incubation of tumor cells in cytotoxicity assays resulted in significant inhibition. Autologous fibroblasts or K562 cells were lysed significantly less. HLA-Class I molecule elution resulted in significantly lower recognition of these cells by CTL. These results show for the first time in a larger series the possibility of generating CTL in human pancreatic cancer. The identification of new tumor associated antigens or tumor antigens will be crucial for establishing new treatment strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / physiology
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cytotoxicity Tests, Immunologic
  • HLA Antigens / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Phenotype
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • HLA Antigens