Aims: Cancer cells frequently express antigens capable of being recognized by the host immune system; however, any resultant immune response is often ineffective. This may be related in part to tumor-induced defects in antigen presentation. We screened for dendritic cell infiltration, tumor MHC II expression and associated lymphocytic reaction in the context of three established breast tumor antigens.
Methods: Forty primary breast tumors were evaluated by immunohistochemical techniques for expression of her2/neu, p53, and MUC1 and MHC class II molecules. Twenty-five samples were further analyzed for p53 mutations by PCR-SSCP analysis and DNA sequencing. The phenotype of tumor-infiltrating inflammatory cells was evaluated using the following markers: CD1a, MHC Class II, CD3, CD45, and CD45RO.
Results: Tumors with p53 mutations and overexpression, but not her2/neu or MUC1 overexpressing tumors, more frequently harbored marked CD1a+ dendritic cell infiltrates. An overall correlation between CD1a+ cell infiltrates and HLA class II expression on tumor cells (p = 0.0008) was also observed and these tumors had greater CD45RO+ lymphocytic infiltrates.
Conclusions: In breast cancer, p53 mutations may present a more visible signal to the immune system and hence provide a better target for immunotherapy. Infiltrating CD1a positive cells are associated with a more dense tumor lymphocytic infiltrate and tumor cell expression of MHC II molecules.
Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel