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Evidence for immune defects in breast and lung cancer patients

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Immunosuppression is often identified in cancer patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate several immune parameters for patients with breast and lung cancer. Immunophenotyping analysis showed that the cancer patients investigated had significantly lower absolute numbers of peripheral blood lymphocytes than controls. The immunosuppression was more evident for the breast cancer subgroup. The most severe immune defect noticed was the marked impairment of IFN-γ secretion. A shift toward the Th2 phenotype as revealed by assessment of intracellular level of IFN-γ and IL-4 was also noticed. The secretion of proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and TNF-α in whole blood cultures was not impaired. Although the proportion of activated cells was slightly lower than in the control group, our results showed that both peripheral T lymphocytes and NK cells of cancer patients could be induced to express early activation marker CD69 after ex vivo mitogen stimulation. In conclusion, our study revealed several immune defects in cancer patients. This suggests that an appropriate immunotherapeutical approach might be used to restore compromised immune functions with beneficial effects on both antitumor and general immunity.

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This work was supported by a grant from the Romanian Ministry of Education, Research and Youth (Program Biotech, grant 097). The authors gratefully acknowledge the skillful technical assistance of Camelia Tabarta, Rodica Tudorache, and Florica Chioseolu. The contribution of Iuliana Francisca Serbanescu to data analysis is also appreciated.

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Correspondence to Aurora Salageanu.

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Caras, I., Grigorescu, A., Stavaru, C. et al. Evidence for immune defects in breast and lung cancer patients. Cancer Immunol Immunother 53, 1146–1152 (2004).

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