Springer Seminars in Immunopathology

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 75–85 | Cite as

Tumor immunity via homeostatic T cell proliferation: mechanistic aspects and clinical perspectives

  • Roberto BaccalaEmail author
  • Rosana Gonzalez-Quintial
  • Wolfgang Dummer
  • Argyrios N. Theofilopoulos
Original Article


Efforts to develop effective anti-tumor immunotherapies are hampered by the difficulty of overcoming tolerance against tumor antigens, which in most instances are normal gene products that are over-expressed, preferentially expressed or re-expressed in cancer cells. Considering that lymphopenia-induced homeostatic T cell proliferation is mediated by self-peptide/MHC recognition and that the expanded cells acquire some effector functions, we hypothesized that this process could be used to break tolerance against tumor antigens. Studies by us and others in several mouse models demonstrated that availability of tumor antigens during homeostatic T cell proliferation indeed leads to effective anti-tumor autoimmunity with specificity and memory. This effect appears to be mediated by reduction in the activation threshold of low-affinity tumor-specific T cells, leading to their preferential engagement and expansion. In its simplicity, this approach is likely to have application in humans, since it relies on conventional lymphopenia-inducing cancer therapies, infusion of autologous lymphocytes and, optimally, tumor-specific vaccination.


Lymphopenia Melanoma Cancer immunotherapy Anti-tumor autoimmunity Tumor antigens 



This is publication number 17145-IMM from the Department of Immunology of The Scripps Research Institute. The work of the authors reported herein was supported in part by U.S. Public Health Service Grants (AR32103, AR39555, AI32751, AI52257) and the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (W81XWH-04-1-0454). The authors thank M. Kat Occhipinti-Bender for editorial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberto Baccala
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rosana Gonzalez-Quintial
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Dummer
    • 2
  • Argyrios N. Theofilopoulos
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Immunology, IMM-3The Scripps Research InstituteLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Genentech Inc.S. San FranciscoUSA

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