Immunotherapy-induced CD8+ T cells instigate immune suppression in the tumor

Mol Ther. 2014 Jan;22(1):206-18. doi: 10.1038/mt.2013.255. Epub 2013 Oct 23.


Despite clear evidence of immunogenicity, cancer vaccines only provide a modest clinical benefit. To evaluate the mechanisms that limit tumor regression following vaccination, we have investigated the weak efficacy of a highly immunogenic experimental vaccine using a murine melanoma model. We discovered that the tumor adapts rapidly to the immune attack instigated by tumor-specific CD8+ T cells in the first few days following vaccination, resulting in the upregulation of a complex set of biological networks, including multiple immunosuppressive processes. This rapid adaptation acts to prevent sustained local immune attack, despite continued infiltration by increasing numbers of tumor-specific T cells. Combining vaccination with adoptive transfer of tumor-specific T cells produced complete regression of the treated tumors but did not prevent the adaptive immunosuppression. In fact, the adaptive immunosuppressive pathways were more highly induced in regressing tumors, commensurate with the enhanced level of immune attack. Examination of tumor infiltrating T-cell functionality revealed that the adaptive immunosuppression leads to a progressive loss in T-cell function, even in tumors that are regressing. These novel observations that T cells produced by therapeutic intervention can instigate a rapid adaptive immunosuppressive response within the tumor have important implications for clinical implementation of immunotherapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / genetics
  • Adenoviruses, Human / genetics
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Female
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Genetic Vectors / immunology
  • Immunomodulation / genetics
  • Immunomodulation / immunology
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Intramolecular Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Intramolecular Oxidoreductases / immunology
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • Tumor Burden / genetics
  • Tumor Burden / immunology
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines, Synthetic


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Synthetic
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Intramolecular Oxidoreductases
  • dopachrome isomerase