Immunotherapy for Hodgkin's disease

Ann Hematol. 2002:81 Suppl 2:S39-42.


EBV proteins present in the malignant Hodgkin Reed-Sternberg (HR-S) cells of about 40% of patients with Hodgkin's Disease (HD) provide targets for immunotherapy with virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). However, Hodgkin tumors use multiple strategies to avoid CTL, including down-regulation of immunodominant EBV antigens, and secretion of cytokines and chemokines such as TGF-beta, that inhibit the activation of CTL and professional antigen-presenting cells (APC). To be effective against this tumor, CTL must resist some or all of these strategies. Thirteen patients with multiply-relapsed HD received EBV-specific CTL, generated ex vivo using the autologous EBV-transformed B cells (LCL) as stimulator cells. After CTL infusion, EBV-specific immunity increased, virus load decreased, CTL homed to sites of malignancy and persisted for up to ten months. Clinically, CTL produced resolution of B symptoms and mixed tumor responses including one complete remission of residual disease remaining after autologous bone marrow transplant. However, no complete remission of bulky disease was achieved. Although LMP2-specific CTL activity could be detected in some of the infused CTL lines, they were present in low frequency. In pre-clinical studies, LMP1 and LMP2-specific CTL could be produced by stimulating PBMC from patients and normal donors with autologous dendritic cells expressing LMP1 or LMP2 from adenoviral vectors. Further, CTL could be rendered resistant to the devastating effects of TGF-beta by transduction with a retrovirus vector expressing a dominant-negative TGF-beta receptor, while transgenic IL-12 could increase the expression of Th1 and decrease that of Th2 cytokines. Future clinical studies will test the efficacy of CTL with improved antigen-specificity and resistance to Hodgkin immune evasion strategies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Gene Expression
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology
  • Hodgkin Disease / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Interleukin-12 / genetics
  • Recurrence
  • Stem Cell Transplantation
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / immunology


  • Antigens, Viral
  • EBV-associated membrane antigen, Epstein-Barr virus
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Viral Matrix Proteins
  • Interleukin-12