Coupling CD28 Co-Stimulation to Immunoglobulin T-Cell Receptor Molecules: The Dynamics of T-Cell Proliferation and Death

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Immunoglobulin T-cell receptor (IgTCR) molecules are potentially potent immune response modifiers because they allow T cells to bypass tolerance. Tolerance to self antigens has been one of the major barriers to the development of effective adoptive immunotherapies for treating cancer. In vitro studies in several laboratories have shown that cross-linking IgTCR molecules with the target antigen leads to cytolytic activity, cytokine release, and T-cell proliferation in model systems. However, many of these studies have used established T-cell lines rather than normal T cells or indirect assays of cytotoxicity, proliferation, and cytokine release. We have sought to establish the validity of these model systems while developing more effective adoptive immunotherapies using normal human T cells. In the present study the activation of T-cell proliferation after IgTCR cross-linking was evaluated. The results show that, in addition to IgTCR signals, CD28 costimulation is required to induce expansions of normal peripheral blood mononuclear cell–derived T cells. Signals from IgTCR alone can induce transient cell division, but they do not induce the prolonged polyclonal expansions that are characteristic of native immune responses. Very strong IgTCR signals could circumvent the CD28 requirement, but only at levels that are unlikely to be physiologically relevant. CD28 costimulation also suppressed the deletion of tumor-reactive subclones by activation-induced cell death. These studies confirm the importance of CD28 costimulation to the proliferation of IgTCR-modified human T cells, a key feature of an effective, reconstructed antitumor response.

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