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In vivo blockade of CTLA-4 enhances the priming of responsive T cells but fails to prevent the induction of tumor antigen-specific tolerance

  • Eduardo M. Sotomayor
  • Ivan Borrello
  • Erev Tubb
  • James P. Allison
  • Hyam I. Levitsky
The National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
Sep 28, 1999
  • Medicine


The efficacy of therapeutic vaccination for the treatment of cancer is limited by peripheral tolerance to tumor antigens. In vivo blockade of CTLA-4, a negative regulator of T cell function, can induce the regression of established tumors and can augment the tumor rejection achieved through therapeutic vaccination. These outcomes may reflect enhanced tumor-specific T cell priming and/or interference with the development of tolerance to tumor antigens. We examined the effect of CTLA-4 blockade on the fate and function of T cells specific for a model tumor antigen in the tumor-bearing host. We found that while CTLA-4 blockade enhanced the priming of responsive T cells, it did not prevent the induction of tolerance to tumor antigens. These results demonstrate that there is a critical window in which the combination of CTLA-4 blockade and vaccination achieves an optimal response, and they point to mechanisms other than CTLA-4 engagement in mediating peripheral T cell tolerance to tumor antigens.

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