Potential approach to immunotherapy of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL): enhanced immunogenicity of CLL cells via infection with vectors encoding for multiple costimulatory molecules

Claudia Palena, Kenneth A. Foon, Dennis Panicali, Alicia Gómez Yafal, Jarasvech Chinsangaram, James W. Hodge, Jeffrey Schlom and Kwong Y. Tsang


Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a disease of CD5+ B lymphocytes (designated as CLL cells) that are inefficient antigen-presenting cells. Their poor ability to present antigens to the T cells, largely due to an inadequate costimulatory capacity, is manifested as a failure to stimulate proliferation of both allogeneic and autologous T cells. We have investigated the ability of in vitro manipulated CLL cells, via hyperexpression of a triad of costimulatory molecules (B7-1, intercellular adhesion molecule 1 [ICAM-1], and leukocyte-function–associated antigen 3 [LFA-3], designated TRICOM), to stimulate effective antitumor T-cell responses. A recombinant modified vaccinia virus strain Ankara (MVA), which is a highly attenuated, replication-impaired virus variant, was successfully used to infect and deliver the simultaneous expression of the 3 human costimulatory molecules in TRICOM on the surface of the CLL cells. Proliferation of allogeneic and autologous T cells was observed when MVA-TRICOM–infected CLL cells were used as stimulators in proliferation assays. Cytotoxic T lymphocytes, generated in vitro by stimulation of autologous T cells with MVA-TRICOM–infected CLL cells, showed cytotoxicity against unmodified/uninfected CLL cells. Therefore, our findings suggest that the use of CLL cells infected ex vivo with MVA-TRICOM or direct injection of MVA-TRICOM in patients with CLL has potential for the immunotherapy of CLL.

  • Submitted March 31, 2005.
  • Accepted July 18, 2005.
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