Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Expressing ErbB-2/neu Elicit Protective Antibreast Tumor Immunity In vivo, Which Is Paradoxically Suppressed by IFN-γ and Tumor Necrosis Factor-α Priming
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It is unknown whether mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) can regulate immune responses targeting tumor autoantigens of low immunogenicity. We tested here whether immunization with MSC could break immune tolerance towards the ErbB-2/HER-2/neu tumor antigen and the effects of priming with IFN-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) on this process. BALB/c- and C57BL/6-derived MSC were lentivirally transduced to express a kinase-inactive rat neu mutant (MSC/Neu). Immunization of BALB/c mice with nontreated or IFN-γ-primed allogeneic or syngeneic MSC/Neu induced similar levels of anti-neu antibody titers; however, only syngeneic MSC/Neu induced protective neu-specific CD8(+) T cell responses. Compared to immunization with nontreated or IFN-γ-primed syngeneic MSC/Neu, the number of circulating neu-specific CD8(+) T cells and titers of anti-neu antibodies were observed to be decreased after immunizations with IFN-γ- plus TNF-α-primed MSC/Neu. In addition, syngeneic MSC/Neu seemed more efficient than IFN-γ-primed MSC/Neu at inducing a protective therapeutic antitumor immune response resulting in the regression of transplanted neu-expressing mammary tumor cells. In vitro antigen-presenting cell assays performed with paraformaldehyde-fixed or live MSC showed that priming with IFN-γ plus TNF-α, compared to priming with IFN-γ alone, increased antigen presentation as well as the production of immunosuppressive factors. These data suggest that whereas MSC could effectively serve as antigen-presenting cells to induce immune responses aimed at tumor autoantigens, these functions are critically regulated by IFN-γ and TNF-α.
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