Blood. 1996 Aug 15;88(4):1501-8.

Evidence for a graft-versus-tumor effect in a patient treated with marrow ablative chemotherapy and allogeneic bone marrow transplantation for breast cancer.

by Christoph Gassner

Eibl B, Schwaighofer H, Nachbaur D, Marth C, Gächter A, Knapp R, Böck G, Gassner C, Schiller L, Petersen F, Niederwieser D.


Graft-versus-leukemia (GvL) has been shown to be an important immune-mediated antitumor effect in hematologic malignancies. It is still unknown whether such an immunemediated antitumor effect has clinical implications in patients with solid tumors. A 32-year-old woman with inflammatory breast cancer received a bone marrow transplant (BMT) from her HLA-identical sibling. During graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) cytotoxic T lymphocytes were grown and tested in a chromium-release assay against B and T lymphocytes of the patient and donor and against a panel of breast cancer cell lines. Resolution of liver metastases was observed simultaneously with clinical GvHD in the first weeks after transplant. In addition, minor histocompatibility antigen (MiHA)-specific and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I antigen-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocytes recognizing breast carcinoma target cells were isolated from the blood of the patient. Pretreatment of such target cells with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha but not with interferon (IFN)-alpha or IFN-gamma increased susceptibility of these cells to lysis by cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Clinical course and in vitro results suggest that a graft-versus-tumor (GvT) effect might exist after allogeneic BMT for breast cancer. However, clinical experience on a larger scale would be required to determine the clinical efficacy of GvT effects in patients with solid tumors.

PMID: 8695872

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