CD8+ T-cell responses rapidly select for antigen-negative tumor cells in the prostate

Cancer Immunol Res. 2013 Dec;1(6):393-401. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-13-0109. Epub 2013 Sep 20.


Stimulation of patients' immune systems for the treatment of solid tumors is an emerging therapeutic paradigm. The use of enriched autologous T cells for adoptive cell therapy or vaccination with antigen-loaded dendritic cells have shown clinical efficacy in melanoma and prostate cancer, respectively. However, the long-term effects of immune responses on selection and outgrowth of antigen-negative tumor cells in specific tumor types must be determined to understand and achieve long-term therapeutic effects. In this study, we have investigated the expression of a tumor-specific antigen in situ after treatment with tumor-specific CD8(+) T cells in an autochthonous mouse model of prostate cancer. After T-cell treatment, aggregates of dead antigen-positive tumor cells were concentrated in the lumen of the prostate gland and were eventually eliminated from the prostate tissue. Despite the elimination of antigen-positive tumor cells, prostate tumor continued to grow in T-cell-treated mice. Interestingly, the remaining tumor cells were antigen negative and downregulated MHC class I expression. These results show that CD8(+) T cells are effective in eliminating antigen-bearing prostate tumor cells but they also can select for the outgrowth of antigen-negative tumor cells. These findings provide insights into the requirements for an effective cancer immunotherapy within the prostate that not only induces potent immune responses but also avoids selection and outgrowth of antigen-negative tumor cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / transplantation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / metabolism
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / methods*
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology
  • Male
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I