Induction of specific immune response against therapy-resistant tumor cells can potentially improve clinical outcomes in malignancies. To optimize immunotherapy in the clinic, we aimed to create an in vivo model enabling us to analyze human cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses against human malignancies. To this end, we developed NOD/SCID/IL2rgKO (NSG) mice expressing the HLA class I molecules HLA-A*0201 and A*2402. In the bone marrow (BM) and spleen of HLA class I transgenic (Tg) NSG mice transplanted with cord blood hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), we found human memory CD8(+) T cells and antigen-presenting cells. To evaluate antigen-specific human CTL responses, we immunized HLA class I Tg NSG mice using polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid mixed Wilms tumor 1 (WT1) peptides, with or without WT1 peptide-loaded autologous dendritic cells. After immunization, the frequencies of HLA-restricted WT1-specific CTLs increased significantly in the spleen. Next, we transplanted the WT1-specific T-cell receptor (WT1-TCR) gene-transduced human HSCs into HLA class I Tg NSG newborn mice. WT1 tetramer-positive CD8(+) T cells differentiated from WT1-TCR-transduced HSCs in the recipients' BM, spleen, and thymus. Upon stimulation with WT1 peptide in vitro, these CTLs produced interferon-γ and showed lytic activity against leukemia cells in an antigen-specific, HLA-restricted manner. HLA class I Tg NSG xenografts may serve as a preclinical model to develop effective immunotherapy against human malignancies.
© 2016 by The American Society of Hematology.