Antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes can target chemoresistant side-population tumor cells in Hodgkin lymphoma

Leuk Lymphoma. 2010 May;51(5):870-80. doi: 10.3109/10428191003713968.


Side-population (SP) analysis has been used to identify progenitor cells from normal and malignant tissues as well as revealing tumor cells with increased resistance to radiation and chemotherapy. Despite enhanced chemoresistance, tumor SP cells may still express tumor-associated antigens (TAAs), which may render them susceptible to elimination by the immune system. In this study, we show that both Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) cell lines and primary HL tumor samples contain a distinct SP phenotype. Importantly, while these cells showed increased resistance to gemcitabine, a commonly used drug for the treatment of refractory HL, HL SP cells also expressed higher levels of the TAAs MAGEA4, SSX2, survivin, and NY-ESO-1, which allowed them to be specifically recognized and killed by TAA-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes. This study suggests that chemoresistant HL SP cells can be targeted by the immune system, providing a rationale for combined chemotherapy and immunotherapy for the treatment of HL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Deoxycytidine / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gemcitabine
  • Hodgkin Disease / classification
  • Hodgkin Disease / immunology*
  • Hodgkin Disease / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Prognosis
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Deoxycytidine
  • Gemcitabine