HLA class I antigen expression in malignant cells: why does it not always correlate with CTL-mediated lysis?

Curr Opin Immunol. 2004 Oct;16(5):644-50. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2004.07.015.


HLA class I antigen defects are frequently found in malignant cells. They appear to play a role in the clinical course of the disease, probably because they provide tumor cells with a mechanism to escape cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) recognition and destruction. Expression of HLA class I antigens, however, is not always associated with the susceptibility of tumor cells to CTL lysis. Many mechanisms may underlie this finding, including the lack of tumor antigen (TA)-derived peptide presentation by a given HLA class I allospecificity, and/or the expression of immunosuppressive molecules such as HLA-G. These findings emphasize the need to develop probes to measure HLA class I allospecificity-TA peptide complex expression in malignant cells. Furthermore, the evaluation of the role of HLA class I antigens in the interaction of malignant cells with host immune cells should take into account the potential interference of tumor-derived immunomodulators.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / immunology*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / biosynthesis*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / immunology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I