Danger signals and nonself entity of tumor antigen are both required for eliciting effective immune responses against HER-2/neu positive mammary carcinoma: implications for vaccine design
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- Kmieciak, M., Morales, J.K., Morales, J. et al. Cancer Immunol Immunother (2008) 57: 1391. doi:10.1007/s00262-008-0475-8
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Using parental FVB mice and their neu transgenic counterparts, FVBN202, we showed for the first time that dangerous hyperplasia of mammary epithelial cells coincided with breaking immunological tolerance to the neu “self” tumor antigen, though such immune responses failed to prevent formation of spontaneous neu-overexpressing mammary carcinoma (MMC) or reject transplanted MMC in FVBN202 mice. On the other hand, neu-specific immune responses appeared to be effective against MMC in parental FVB mice because of the fact that rat neu protein was seen as “nonself” antigen in these animals and the protein was dangerously overexpressed in MMC. Interestingly, low/intermediate expression of the neu “nonself” protein in tumors induced immune responses but such immune responses failed to reject the tumor in FVB mice. Our results showed that self–nonself (SNS) entity of a tumor antigen or danger signal alone, while may equally induce an antigen-specific immune response, will not warrant the efficacy of immune responses against tumors. On the other hand, entity of antigen in the context of dangerous conditions, i.e. abnormal/dangerous overexpression of the neu nonself protein, will warrant effective anti-tumor immune responses in FVB mice. This unified “danger-SNS” model suggests focusing on identification of naturally processed cryptic or mutated epitopes, which are considered semi-nonself by the host immune system, along with novel dangerous adjuvant in vaccine design.