The efficacy of immunotherapy in cancer patients is influenced by differences in their immune status. An evaluation of immunocompetence before therapy may help to predict therapeutic success and guide the selection of appropriate regimens. We assessed the preexisting cellular immunity against prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in untreated prostate cancer patients and healthy controls through measurement of the phenotype and function of CD8(+) T cells. Our data show that the majority of healthy men possess functional PSA-specific CD8(+) T cells in contrast to cancer patients, where <50 % showed a CD8(+) T cell response. PSA146-154-specific CD8(+) T cells of these patients had a higher expression of the activation marker CD38 and the exhaustion marker Tim-3, indicating that PSA-specific cells are exhausted. The heterogeneity of the CD8(+) T cell response against PSA in prostate cancer patients may influence their response to therapy and is a factor to be taken into account while designing and selecting treatment regimens.
Keywords: Antigen-specific T cells; Exhaustion; PSA; Prostate cancer.