Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BackgroundCancer-testis antigens (CTAs) and tumour-associated antigens (TAAs) are frequently expressed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); however, the role of tumour-antigen-specific T cell immunity in HCC progression is poorly defined. We characterized CTA- and TAA-specific T cell responses in different HCC stages and investigated their alterations during HCC progression.MethodsFifty-eight HCC patients, 15 liver cirrhosis patients, 15 chronic hepatitis B patients and 10 heathy controls were enrolled in total. IFN-γ ELSPOT using CTAs, including MAGE-A1, MAGE-A3, NY-ESO-1, and SSX2, and two TAAs, SALL4 and AFP, was performed to characterize the T-cell immune response in the enrolled individuals. The functional phenotype of T cells and the responsive T cell populations were analyzed using short-term T-cell culture.ResultsT cell responses against CTAs and TAAs were specific to HCC. In early-stage HCC patients, the SALL4-specific response was the strongest, followed by MAGE-A3, NY-ESO-1, MAGE-A1 and SSX2. One-year recurrence-free survival after transcatheter arterial chemoembolization plus radiofrequency ablation treatment suggested the protective role of CTA-specific responses. The four CTA- and SALL4-specific T cell responses decreased with the progression of HCC, while the AFP-specific T cell response increased. A higher proportion of CD4+ T cells specific to CTA/SALL4 was observed than AFP-specific T cell responses.ConclusionsThe IFN-γ ELISPOT assay characterized distinct profiles of tumour-antigen-specific T cell responses in HCC patients. CTA- and SALL4-specific T cell responses may be important for controlling HCC in the early stage, whereas AFP-specific T cell responses might be a signature of malignant tumour status in the advanced stage. The application of immunotherapy at an early stage of HCC development should be considered.

Original publication

DOI

10.1186/s12885-021-08720-9

Type

Journal article

Journal

BMC cancer

Publication Date

08/09/2021

Volume

21

Addresses

Biomedical Information Center, Beijing YouAn Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China.

Keywords

CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Humans, Carcinoma, Hepatocellular, Liver Neoplasms, Antigens, Neoplasm, Prognosis, Chemoembolization, Therapeutic, Case-Control Studies, Follow-Up Studies, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Female, Male, Young Adult