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Impaired function of gamma–delta lymphocytes in melanoma patients


Petrini Mario, MD, Division of Haematology, Department of Oncology, Transplant and Advances in Medicine, University of Pisa, 67 Via Roma, Pisa 56100, Italy. Tel.: +39 050 992 815; fax: +39 050 830 162; e-mail:


Eur J Clin Invest 2011; 41 (11): 1186–1194


Background  Melanoma is an immunogenic tumour but, despite the wide range of immunotherapies tested, only few promising results have been reported to date. Both in vitro and in xenograft models, γδ lymphocyte-mediated cytotoxicity against melanoma cells has been reported. IL-2/zoledronate treatment can expand γδ cells in vitro and in animal models. This could represent an immunotherapeutic strategy against melanoma. To evaluate the feasibility of this approach, we studied γδ lymphocyte phenotype from patients with melanoma, their ability to be expanded by IL-2/zoledronate and their cytotoxic activity against SK-MEL-30 cell line.

Materials and methods  Peripheral blood samples were collected from 30 patients with melanoma and 10 healthy donors. Percentage of γδ lymphocytes and CD45RO+CD27+, CD45RA+CD27−, CD57+, Vγ9Vδ2 subpopulations were evaluated by flow cytometry. IL-2/zoledronate γδ cell expansion rate and their cytotoxicity against SK-MEL-30 cell line were studied.

Results  A percentage decrease in circulating Vγ9Vδ2 and an increase in CD45RA+CD27− and CD57+ γδ lymphocytes were observed in melanoma. IL-2/zoledronate expansion rate did not differ between controls and patients with melanoma but cytotoxicity against SK-MEL-30 appeared reduced.

Conclusions  Our results show that γδ cell function is impaired in patients with advanced melanoma and suggest a possible role in tumour progression.

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