Tumor-reactive CD8+ T-cell responses after vaccination with NY-ESO-1 peptide, CpG 7909 and Montanide® ISA-51: association with survival

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Peptide-based vaccines have led to the induction of antigen-specific CD8+ T-cell responses in patients with NY-ESO-1 positive cancers. However, vaccine-induced T-cell responses did not generally correlate with improved survival. Therefore, we tested whether a synthetic CpG 7909 ODN (deoxycytidyl-deoxyguanosin oligodeoxy-nucleotides) mixed with NY-ESO-1 peptide p157-165 and incomplete Freund's adjuvants (Montanide® ISA-51) led to enhanced NY-ESO-1 antigen-specific CD8+ immune responses in patients with NY-ESO-1 or LAGE-1 expressing tumors. Of 14 HLA-A2+ patients enrolled in the study, 5 patients withdrew prematurely because of progressive disease and 9 patients completed 1 cycle of immunization. Nine of 14 patients developed measurable and sustained antigen-specific CD8+ T-cell responses: Four had detectable CD8+ T-cells against NY-ESO-1 after only 2 vaccinations, whereas 5 patients showed a late-onset but durable induction of NY-ESO-1 p157-165 specific T-cell response during continued vaccination after 4 months. In 6 patients, vaccine-induced antigen-specific T-cells became detectableex vivoand reached frequencies of up to 0.16 % of all circulating CD8+ T-cells. Postvaccine T-cell clones were shown to recognize and lyse NY-ESO-1 expressing tumor cell linesin vitro. In 6 of 9 patients developing NY-ESO-1-specific immune responses, a favorable clinical outcome with overall survival times of 43+, 42+, 42+, 39+, 36+ and 27+ months, respectively, was observed.

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