Tumor antigens are responsible for initiating an immune response in cancer patients, and their identification may provide new biomarkers for cancer diagnosis and targets for immunotherapy. The general use of serum antibodies to identify tumor antigens has several drawbacks, including dilution, complex formation, and background reactivity. In this study, antibodies were generated from antibody-secreting cells (ASC) present in tumor-draining lymph nodes of 20 breast cancer patients (ASC-probes) and were used to screen breast cancer cell lines and protein microarrays. Half of the ASC-probes reacted strongly against extracts of the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line, but each with a distinct antigen recognition profile. Three of the positive ASC-probes reacted differentially with recombinant antigens on a microarray containing cancer-related proteins. The results of this study show that lymph node-derived ASC-probes provide a highly specific source of tumor-specific antibodies. Each breast cancer patient reacts with a different antibody profile which indicates that targeted immunotherapies may need to be personalized for individual patients. Focused microarrays in combination with ASC-probes may be useful in providing immune profiles and identifying tumor antigens of individual cancer patients.
Keywords: antibody secreting cell; biomarker; breast cancer; immune profile; immunotherapy; lymph node; microarray; tumor antigen.