Immunologic hierarchy, class II MHC promiscuity, and epitope spreading of a melanoma helper peptide vaccine
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Immunization with a combination melanoma helper peptide (6MHP) vaccine has been shown to induce CD4+ T cell responses, which are associated with patient survival. In the present study, we define the relative immunogenicity and HLA allele promiscuity of individual helper peptides and identify helper peptide-mediated augmentation of specific CD8+ T cell responses. Thirty-seven participants with stage IIIB-IV melanoma were vaccinated with 6MHP in incomplete Freund’s adjuvant. The 6MHP vaccine is comprised of 6 peptides representing melanocytic differentiation proteins gp100, tyrosinase, Melan-A/MART-1, and cancer testis antigens from the MAGE family. CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses were assessed in peripheral blood and in sentinel immunized nodes (SIN) by thymidine uptake after exposure to helper peptides and by direct interferon-γ ELIspot assay against 14 MHC class I-restricted peptides. Vaccine-induced CD4+ T cell responses to individual epitopes were detected in the SIN of 63 % (22/35) and in the peripheral blood of 38 % (14/37) of participants for an overall response rate of 65 % (24/37). The most frequently immunogenic peptides were MAGE-A3281–295 (49 %) and tyrosinase386–406 (32 %). Responses were not limited to HLA restrictions originally described. Vaccine-associated CD8+ T cell responses against class I-restricted peptides were observed in 45 % (5/11) of evaluable participants. The 6MHP vaccine induces both CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses against melanoma antigens. CD4+ T cell responses were detected beyond reported HLA-DR restrictions. Induction of CD8+ T cell responses suggests epitope spreading and systemic activity mediated at the tumor site.
KeywordsMelanoma Peptide vaccines CD4 T cells Immunogenicity
Combination melanoma helper peptide
Cytotoxic T lymphocyte
Peripheral blood mononuclear cell
Sentinel immunized node
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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