Object: Little is known about the quantitative modulation of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) Class I expression on human gliomas that is effected by interferons; even less is known about the immunogenic peptides that are accommodated in the peptide-binding motifs of MHC Class I alleles in these brain tumors. In this article the authors investigated the ability of interferon (IFN)alpha and IFNgamma to upregulate MHC Class I expression and to modulate acid-eluted Class I-bound peptides on human glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells in vitro.
Methods: Early-passage primary human GBM cell cultures and U87MG GBM cells were incubated with varying doses of INFalpha or IFNgamma ranging between 0 and 2000 U/ml. Upregulation of MHC Class I expression was assayed by immunocytochemical analysis, flow cytometry, and Western blot analysis. Modulation of acid-eluted MHC Class I-bound peptides from the IFN-treated GBM cells was examined with the aid of mass spectroscopy. The in vitro expression of the MHC Class I molecule was upregulated by both IFNalpha and IFNgamma in a dose-dependent manner. Interferon-gamma exhibited a more potent effect on MHC Class I upregulation, peaking at 10 U/ml; whereas the effect of IFNalpha was less marked, reaching a plateau at 500 U/ml. In addition, a native peptide eluted from MHC Class I molecules of human GBM cells was identified and found to be consistently upregulated by IFN treatment.
Conclusions: Interferon-alpha and IFN-gamma can significantly upregulate the MHC Class I molecules that are expressed on the cell surface of human GBM cells as well as the potentially immunogenic peptides bound to the MHC. These results may help explain the molecular basis for increased immunogenicity with IFN treatment of human GBMs and might provide added insight into the design of future antitumor vaccines for human brain tumors.