Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Modeling the specific CD4+ T cell response against a tumor neoantigen.

PMID 25732731


The antitumor activity of CD4(+) T cells is increasingly acknowledged in both humans and mice. The involved mechanisms have been mostly studied using transplanted tumor mouse systems. In these models, many tumor cells die at the time of implantation leading to the release of Ag in an inflammatory context contrasting with the slow and nondestructive growth of early-stage human tumors. In this study, we show that the presentation of a MHC class II-restricted model Ag (male, DBY) released by dying tumor cells may last more than 4 wk. The duration of Ag presentation varies according to the way the cells are killed before implantation. To avoid this artifactual early priming of the host precluding the study of the interactions between the immune system and tumors at the steady state, we generated a cell line expressing the DBY Ag in an inducible manner. Ag expression can be efficiently induced in vivo several days after tumor implantation. We show that the Ag reaches the lymph node and activates naive CD4(+) T cells to proliferate and recirculate. We did not observe de novo induction of tumor-specific regulatory T cells. However, we observed Th1/Th17 effector cells in the tumor draining lymph node and tumors. Thus, when a neoantigen appears in established tumors, the immune system is not ignorant and naive CD4(+) T cells are not tolerized. This opens up the possibility of therapeutic vaccines improving the immune response toward tumor-specific neoantigens.