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International immunology

B-CLL cells acquire APC- and CTL-like phenotypic characteristics after stimulation with CpG ODN and IL-21.


PMID 24497611

Abstract

CpG oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG) and IL-21 are two promising agents for the treatment of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL). Recently, we reported that the combination of CpG and IL-21 (CpG/IL-21) can induce granzyme B (GrB)-dependent apoptosis in B-CLL cells. Here, we demonstrate that treatment of B-CLL cells with CpG and IL-21 results in the development of antigen-presenting cell (APC)-like cells with cytotoxic features. These properties eventually give rise to B-CLL cell apoptosis, independently of their cytogenetic phenotype, whereas normal B-cell survival is not negatively affected by CpG/IL-21. APC- and CTL-typical molecules found to be up-regulated in CpG/IL-21-stimulated B-CLL cells include GrB, perforin, T-bet, monokine-induced by IFN-γ and IFN-γ-inducible protein 10 (IP-10), as well as molecules important for cell adhesion, antigen cross-presentation and costimulation. Also induced are molecules involved in GrB induction, trafficking and processing, whereas the GrB inhibitor Serpin B9 [formerly proteinase inhibitor-9 (PI-9)] is down-modulated by CpG/IL-21. In conclusion, CpG/IL-21-stimulated B-CLL cells acquire features that are reminiscent of killer dendritic cells, and which result in enhanced immunogenicity, cytotoxicity and apoptosis. Our results provide novel insights into the aberrant immune state of B-CLL cells and may establish a basis for the development of an innovative cellular vaccination approach in B-CLL.