Elevated levels of select gangliosides in T cells from renal cell carcinoma patients is associated with T cell dysfunction

Soumika Biswas, Kaushik Biswas, Amy Richmond, Jennifer Ko, Sankar Ghosh, Matthew Simmons, Patricia Rayman, Brian Rini, Inderbir Gill, Charles S. Tannenbaum, James H. Finke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Increased expression of gangliosides by different tumor types including renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is thought to contribute to the immune suppression observed in cancer patients. In this study, we report an increase in apoptotic T cells from RCC patients compared with T cells from normal donors that coincided with the detection of T cells staining positive for GM2 and that the apoptosis was predominantly observed in the GM2+ but not the GM2- T cell population. Ganglioside shedding from tumor rather than endogenous production accounts for GM2+ T cells since there was no detectable level of mRNA for GM2 synthase in RCC patient T cells and in T cells from normal healthy donors after incubation with either purified GM2 or supernatant from RCC cell lines despite their staining positive for GM2. Moreover, reactive oxygen species as well as activated caspase 3, 8, and 9 were predominantly elevated in GM2+ but not GM2- T cells. Similarly, increased staining for GD2 and GD3 but not GD1a was detected with patient T cells with elevated levels of apoptosis in the GD2+ and GD3 + cells. These findings suggest that GM2, GD2, and GD3 play a significant role in immune dysfunction observed in RCC patient T cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5050-5058
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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