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MHC Class I Loss Is A Frequent Mechanism Of Immune Escape In Papillary Thyroid Cancer That Is Reversed By Interferon And Selumetinib Treatment In Vitro

Trevor E Angell, M. G. Lechner, Julie Jang, J. Lopresti, A. Epstein
Published 2014 · Biology, Medicine

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Purpose: To evaluate MHC class I expression on papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) and analyze changes in MHC expression and associated immune activation with current and experimental treatments for thyroid cancer using in vitro PTC cell lines. Experimental Design: MHC class I expression and assessment of tumor-infiltrating leukocyte populations were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. PTC cell lines were analyzed for HLA-ABC expression by flow cytometry following tyrosine kinase inhibitor, IFNα or IFNγ, or radiation treatment. Functional changes in antigenicity were assessed by coculture of allogeneic donor peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) with pretreated or untreated PTC cell lines and measurement of T-cell activation and cytokine production. Results: Both MHC class I and β2-microglobulin expression was reduced or absent in 76% of PTC specimens and was associated with reduced tumor-infiltrating immune cells, including effector (CD3+, CD8+, CD16+) and suppressor (FoxP3+) populations. Treatment of PTC cell lines with the MEK1/2 inhibitor selumetinib or IFN increased HLA-ABC expression. This phenotypic change was associated with increased T-cell activation (%CD25+ of CD3+) and IL2 production by PBL cocultured with treated PTC cell lines. Additive effects were seen with combination selumetinib and IFN treatment. Conclusions: MHC class I expression loss is frequent in human PTC specimens and represents a significant mechanism of immune escape. Increased antigenicity following selumetinib and IFN treatment warrants further study for immunotherapy of progressive PTC. Clin Cancer Res; 20(23); 6034–44. ©2014 AACR.
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