Antibodies Can Modulate Tumor Antigens

Certain tumor-specific antigens have been observed to disappear from the surface of tumor cells in the presence of serum antibody and then to reappear after the antibody is no longer present. This phenomenon, called antigenic modulation, is readily observed when leukemic T cells are injected into mice previously immunized with a leukemic T-cell antigen (TL antigen). These mice develop high titers of anti-TL

High class I MHC

High class I MHC

Modulation Tumor Antigens

Moderate class I MHC

Escapes

Moderate class I MHC

FIGURE 22-10

Down-regulation of class I MHC expression on tumor cells may allow a tumor to escape CTL-mediated recognition. The immune response may play a role in selecting for tumor cells expressing lower levels of class I MHC molecules by preferentially elim-

Escapes inating those cells expressing high levels of class I molecules. With time, malignant tumor cells may express progressively fewer MHC molecules and thus escape CTL-mediated destruction.

antibody, which binds to the TL antigen on the leukemic cells and induces capping, endocytosis, and/or shedding of the antigen-antibody complex. As long as antibody is present, these leukemic T cells fail to display the TL antigen and thus cannot be eliminated.

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