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HLA expression in cancer: implications for T cell-based immunotherapy

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HLA class I expression is altered in a significant fraction of the tumor types reviewed here, reflecting either immune pressure or, simply, the accumulation of pathological changes and alterations. However, in all tumor types analyzed, a majority of the tumors express HLA class I, with a general tendency for the more severe alterations to be found in later-stage and less differentiated tumors. These results are encouraging for the development of specific immunotherapies, especially considering that (1) the relatively low sensitivity of immunohistochemical techniques might underestimate HLA expression in tumors, (2) class I expression can be induced in tumor cells as a result of local inflammation and lymphokine release, and (3) class I-negative cells would be predicted to be sensitive to lysis by natural killer cells.

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Sette, A., Chesnut, R. & Fikes, J. HLA expression in cancer: implications for T cell-based immunotherapy. Immunogenetics 53, 255–263 (2001).

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