Expression of MHC I and NK ligands on human CD133+ glioma cells: possible targets of immunotherapy

J Neurooncol. 2007 Jun;83(2):121-31. doi: 10.1007/s11060-006-9265-3. Epub 2006 Nov 1.


Mounting evidence suggests that gliomas are comprised of differentiated tumor cells and brain tumor stem cells (BTSCs). BTSCs account for a fraction of total tumor cells, yet are apparently the sole cells capable of tumor initiation and tumor renewal. BTSCs have been identified as the CD133-positive fraction of human glioma, whereas their CD133-negative daughter cells have limited proliferative ability and are not tumorogenic. It is well established that the bulk tumor mass escapes immune surveillance by multiple mechanisms, yet little is known about the immunogenicity of the CD133-positive fraction of the tumor mass. We investigated the immunogenicity of CD133-positive cells in two human astrocytoma and two glioblastoma multiforme samples. Flow cytometry analyses revealed that the majority of CD133-positive cells do not express detectable MHC I or natural killer (NK) cell activating ligands, which may render them resistant to adaptive and innate immune surveillance. Incubating CD133-positive cells in interferon gamma (INF-gamma) significantly increased the percentage of CD133-positive cells that expressed MHC I and NK cell ligands. Furthermore, pretreatment of CD133-positive cells with INF-gamma rendered them sensitive to NK cell-mediated lysis in vitro. There were no consistent differences in immunogenicity between the CD133-positive and CD133-negative cells in these experiments. We conclude that CD133-posistive and CD133-negative glioma cells may be similarly resistant to immune surveillance, but that INF-gamma may partially restore their immunogenicity and potentiate their lysis by NK cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • AC133 Antigen
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism*
  • Astrocytoma / immunology*
  • Astrocytoma / metabolism
  • Astrocytoma / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Glioblastoma / immunology
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interferon-gamma / physiology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / immunology
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • AC133 Antigen
  • Antigens, CD
  • Glycoproteins
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • PROM1 protein, human
  • Peptides
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell
  • Interferon-gamma