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Telomere length of transferred lymphocytes correlates with in vivo persistence and tumor regression in melanoma patients receiving cell transfer therapy

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  • Article
  • Medicine


Recent studies have indicated that adoptive immunotherapy with autologous anti-tumor tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) following non-myeloablative chemotherapy mediates tumor regression in approximately 50% of treated patients with metastatic melanoma, and that tumor regression is correlated with the degree of persistence of adoptively transferred T cells in peripheral blood. These findings, which suggested that the proliferative potential of transferred T cells may play a role in clinical responses, led to the current studies in which telomere length as well as phenotypic markers expressed on the administered TILs were examined. TILs that were associated with objective clinical responses following adoptive transfer possessed a mean telomere length of 6.3 kb, whereas TILs that were not associated with significant clinical responses were significantly shorter, averaging 4.9 kb (p<0.01). Furthermore, individual TIL-derived T cell clonotypes that persisted in vivo following adoptive cell transfer possessed telomeres that were longer than telomeres of T cell clonotypes that failed to persist (6.2 kb versus 4.5 kb respectively, p<0.001). Expression of the co-stimulatory molecule CD28 also appeared to be associated with long telomeres and T cell persistence. These results, indicating that the telomere length of transferred lymphocytes correlated with in vivo T cell persistence following adoptive transfer, and coupled with the previous observation that T cell persistence was associated with clinical responses in this adoptive immunotherapy trial, suggest that telomere length and the proliferative potential of the transferred T cells may play a significant role in mediating response to adoptive immunotherapy.

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