Human acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) blasts as accessory cells during T-cell activation: differences between patients in costimulatory capacity affect proliferative responsiveness and cytokine release by activated T cells

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2003 Apr;52(4):215-25. doi: 10.1007/s00262-002-0364-5. Epub 2003 Feb 15.


The ability of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) blasts to mediate costimulatory signals during T-lymphocyte activation was investigated in an experimental model in which monoclonal T-cell populations were stimulated with standardized activation signals (anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 monoclonal antibodies; phytohemagglutinin, PHA). Leukemia cells from 12 consecutive ALL patients with high peripheral blood blast counts were studied. Proliferative T-cell responses were detected for a majority of these patients when irradiated leukemia blasts were used as accessory cells during activation. T-cell cytokine release was also observed for most patients when using nonirradiated ALL accessory cells. Low or undetectable cytokine levels were usually observed for CD8+ clones, whereas the CD4+ clones often showed a broad cytokine response with release of interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-4, IL-10, IL-13 and interferon gamma(IFN-gamma) in the presence of the ALL accessory cells. ALL blasts were also able to function as allostimulatory cells for normal peripheral blood mononuclear responder cells. However, both T-cell proliferation and cytokine release showed a wide variation between ALL patients. The accessory cell function of ALL blasts showed no correlation with the release of immunomodulatory mediators (IL-2, IL-10, IL-15) or the expression of any single adhesion/costimulatory membrane molecule (CD54, CD58, CD80, CD86) by the blasts. We conclude that for a majority of patients, native ALL blasts can mediate costimulatory signals needed for accessory cell-dependent T-cell activation, but differences in costimulatory capacity between ALL patients affects both the proliferative responsiveness and cytokine release by activated T cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • B7-1 Antigen / immunology
  • B7-1 Antigen / metabolism
  • B7-2 Antigen
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Line
  • Clone Cells
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / immunology
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / diagnosis
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD
  • B7-1 Antigen
  • B7-2 Antigen
  • CD86 protein, human
  • Cytokines
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma