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Immunosensitization of resistant human tumor cells to cytotoxicity by tumor infiltrating lymphocytes

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Most anti-cancer therapies induce apoptotic cell death, but a major barrier to long-term cancer treatments is the generation of apoptosis-resistant tumor cells. Tumor cells that become resistant to one therapy are usually cross-resistant to subsequent therapies, including those with different cellular/molecular targets, suggesting that resistant tumor cells acquire modifications of the general apoptotic pathway. Most solid tumors are characterized by infiltration of lymphocytes (tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, TIL), which may serve as a basis for new strategies to generate tumor specific lymphocytes. However, TIL frequently are unable to kill autologous tumor cells suggesting that they are anergic/tolerant. It is possible that the TIL are functional but the tumor cells are resistant to TIL-mediated apoptotic pathways. Previous findings revealed that resistant tumor cells can be sensitized with cytokines or subtoxic concentrations of chemotherapeutic drugs and restore killing by cytotoxic lymphocytes. In this study, we examined whether TIL can kill autologous and allogeneic tumor cells following sensitization with chemotherapeutic drugs. Renal and prostate cancer-derived TIL were cytotoxic to chemosensitized resistant tumor cells. Killing by TIL was found to be perforin-dependent and perforin-independent. These findings demonstrate that combination drug and immunotherapy may be able to overcome tumor cell resistance to killing by TIL. Further, in vivo sensitization of drug-resistant tumor cells by subtoxic doses of sensitizing chemotherapeutic drugs may result in tumor regression by the host immune system.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry, Neuropsychiatric Institute, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1761, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2003

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  • The International Journal of Oncology provides an international forum for the publication of the latest, cutting-edge research in the broad area of oncology and cancer treatment. The journal accepts original high quality works and reviews on all aspects of oncology research including carcinogenesis, metastasis, epidemiology, chemotherapy and viral oncology. Through fair and efficient peer review, the journal is dedicated to publishing top tier research in the field, offering authors rapid publication as well as high standards of copy-editing and production. The International Journal of Oncology is published on a monthly basis in both print and early online.
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