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Cancer immunity and autoimmunity; two sides of the same coin (?)

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The vast majority of research into the biology of autoimmune diseases has focussed on B-lymphocytes and CD4+ T helper cells, contrasting the limited efforts put into exploring the role of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). Although, the focus on CD8+ T cells in autoimmunity is increasing the target structures of these cells remain largely unknown. We describe CD8+ positive T cells recognizing a SS-56 derived peptide in the context of HLA-A2 in patients suffering from primary Sjögren's syndrome (SS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). SS-56 is a recently described cellular target of autoantibody responses in these diseases. SS-56 specific T cells could readily be detected in circulation by ELISPOT and flow cytometry. Furthermore, in situ stainings revealed the presence of SS-56 specific CD8+ T cells among the infiltrating cells of SLE skin lesions. Remarkably, the SS-56 specific, CD8+ T cells cross react with an epitope from the previously described tumor antigen ML-IAP. In summary, this first description of a target for auto-reactive CTL in SS and SLE patients underscores the important role of CTL in autoimmune disorders. Furthermore, the crossreactivity against the auto-antigen SS-56 and the tumor-antigen ML-IAP confirms the proposed link between autoimmunity and anti-cancer cellular immune responses.

Document Type: Abstract


Affiliations: 1: Department of Rheumatology, Copenhagen University Hospital, DK 2: Department of Dermatology, Würzburg University Hospital, Germany. Mail:, Email: 3: Center for Cancer ImmuneTherapy (CCIT), Department of Hematology, University Hospital Herlev, DK

Publication date: May 1, 2008


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