Functional inactivation of self-reactive T lymphocytes contributes to the maintenance of immunologic self-tolerance. At the same time, tolerance induction limits immune responses against tumors expressing tolerizing self-antigens. Some cancer therapies include the adoptive transfer of tumor-reactive T lymphocytes into lymphopenic patients. Lymphopenia provides an activation signal to T lymphocytes, which undergo lymphopenia-induced proliferation (LIP), acquire effector functions, and reject tumors. However, it is so far unknown to which extent LIP may result in reversal of established antigen-specific CD8 T-cell tolerance. Here, we report that neonatally induced dominant CD8 T-cell tolerance remained stable under lymphopenic conditions also in the presence of systemic inflammation induced by Toll-like receptor ligands. However, when lymphopenic recipients were irradiated, the tolerant status was lost, because CD8 T cells acquired effector functions in an interleukin-15-dependent fashion and efficiently rejected tumors. In conclusion, we show that lymphopenia is not sufficient to break CD8 T-cell tolerance. Furthermore, we demonstrate that pretreatment regimens are crucial to circumvent this problem and to optimize adoptive T-cell therapy.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published