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Keywords:

  • cancer testis gene;
  • cancer testis antigen;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • cholangiocarcinoma;
  • gallbladder carcinoma;
  • immunotherapy;
  • cancer vaccination

Abstract

Cancer testis (CT) antigens are attractive targets for immunotherapy in cancer patients. Immunohistochemistry was used to study the expression of the CT antigens MAGE-C2/CT-10, MAGE-C1/CT-7, GAGE, MAGE-A4 and NY-ESO-1 in 146 hepatocellular carcinomas, 13 intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas, 37 extrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas and 32 gallbladder carcinomas. Immunopositivity was correlated with clinicopathological parameters, MHC Class 1 expression, intratumoral CD4+, CD8+ and FOXP3+ T cells and CD163+ antigen-presenting cells. Of the 146 hepatocellular carcinomas, 34% were positive for MAGE-C2/CT-10, 12% for MAGE-C1/CT-7, 11% for GAGE and 2% for NY-ESO-1, respectively. MHC Class 1 coexpression was identified in almost all CT antigen-positive tumors. The number of intratumoral FOXP3+ regulatory T cells was increased in CT antigen-positive hepatocellular carcinomas (p < 0.004), suggesting inhibition of immune response in such tumors. Furthermore, MAGE-C1/CT-7 and GAGE positivity was correlated with reduced overall survival in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (p = 0.03 and 0.01, respectively). Four (13%) gallbladder carcinomas stained positive for MAGE-C2/CT-10, of which 1 tumor (3%) was also positive for NY-ESO-1 and GAGE. CT antigens were not expressed in intra- and extrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas. Our results suggest that MAGE-C2/CT-10 may be a good candidate for peptide vaccination in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.