Role of IgE receptors in IgE antibody-dependent cytotoxicity and phagocytosis of ovarian tumor cells by human monocytic cells

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2008 Feb;57(2):247-63. doi: 10.1007/s00262-007-0371-7. Epub 2007 Jul 27.


Antibodies directed against tumor-associated antigens are emerging as effective treatments for a number of cancers, although the mechanism(s) of action for some are unclear and still under investigation. We have previously examined a chimeric IgE antibody (MOv18 IgE), against the ovarian tumor-specific antigen, folate binding protein (FBP), and showed that it can direct human PBMC to kill ovarian cancer cells. We have developed a three-color flow cytometric assay to investigate the mechanism by which IgE receptors on U937 monocytes target and kill ovarian tumor cells. U937 monocytes express three IgE receptors, the high-affinity receptor, FcepsilonRI, the low-affinity receptor, CD23, and galectin-3, and mediate tumor cell killing in vitro by two mechanisms, cytotoxicity, and phagocytosis. Our results suggest that CD23 mediates phagocytosis, which is enhanced by upregulation of CD23 on U937 cells with IL-4, whereas FcepsilonRI mediates cytotoxicity. We show that effector : tumor cell bridging is associated with both activities. Galectin-3 does not appear to be involved in tumor cell killing. U937 cells and IgE exerted ovarian tumor cell killing in vivo in our xenograft model in nude mice. Harnessing IgE receptors to target tumor cells suggests the potential of tumor-specific IgE antibodies to activate effector cells in immunotherapy of ovarian cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody-Dependent Cell Cytotoxicity / physiology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Phagocytosis / physiology*
  • Receptors, IgE / immunology*


  • Receptors, IgE