Enhanced Efficacy of Melanoma Vaccines in the Absence of B Lymphocytes

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Provoking a specific cellular immune response against tumor-associated antigens is a promising therapeutic strategy to treat cancers with defined antigens such as melanoma. In recent clinical trials, however, immune responses against melanoma antigens have been elicited without consistent clinical responses, suggesting the need for approaches that potentiate the specific cellular immune response. Since B lymphocytes have been reported to exert a negative effect on the cellular arm of the immune response in certain model systems, the authors compared the protective immunity elicited by melanoma antigens in B cell-deficient μMT mice to that obtained in fully immunocompetent C57BL/6 mice. Immunization with melanoma-associated antigens was accomplished using recombinant adenovirus (Ad) vectors encoding human gp100 (Ad2/gp100) or murine TRP-2 (Ad2/mTRP-2). A single dose of Ad2/gp100 or Ad2/mTRP-2 inhibited the growth of established subcutaneous B16 melanoma tumors in B cell-deficient but not wild-type C57BL/6 mice. The enhanced tumor protection observed in B cell-deficient mice appeared to be associated with potentiation of the magnitude and longevity of the specific cellular immune response. Natural killer (NK) cells were also found to be essential to the protective immune response in μMT mice because NK cell depletion with anti-asialo-GM1 antibody resulted in both the loss of tumor growth suppression and attenuation of the specific cellular immune response. The authors conclude that the protective cell-mediated immunity provoked by Ad-based cancer vaccines is enhanced in the absence of B cells, suggesting that a therapeutic regimen that includes depletion of B lymphocytes may be beneficial to cancer vaccine therapy.

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