• antigen-presenting cells;
  • antitumor effect;
  • BCG;
  • bladder tumor cells;
  • surface antigen

Abstract Background: The antitumor mechanisms of bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) against bladder cancer is still unclear. We previously reported that BCG was internalized by and survived within murine bladder tumor cells (MBT-2) for at least 40 days. In the present study, we investigated the effect of BCG on the surface antigen expression of bladder tumor cells and the characteristics of these cells as antigen-presenting cells in vitro.

Methods: Surface antigen (major histocompatibility complex (MHC) Class II, CD1, CD80 and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1)) expression on BCG-treated murine (MBT-2) and human (T-24, J82) bladder tumor cells were analyzed using flow cytometry. The production of interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) from murine lymphocytes sensitized with BCG or BCG-treated tumor cells were also investigated.

Results: The expressions of MHC Class II, CD1, CD80 and ICAM-1 were augmented in all of the bladder tumor cell lines used; however, they were augmented to varying degrees among the cell lines that were treated with live BCG. Heat-killed BCG had little or no effect. When murine lymph node cells sensitized with BCG or BCG-treated MBT-2 cells were cocultured with BCG-treated MBT-2 cells, significant amounts of IL-2 and IFN-γ were produced in the culture medium.

Conclusions: BCG induced the augmented expression of surface antigens, such as MHC Class II, CD1, CD80 and ICAM-1, of bladder tumor cells. Furthermore, BCG-treated MBT-2 cells could stimulate BCG-sensitized lymphocytes to produce IL-2 and IFN-γ. These results strongly suggest that bladder tumor cells gained the characteristics and functions of antigen-presenting cells (APC).