Irradiation of tumor cells up-regulates Fas and enhances CTL lytic activity and CTL adoptive immunotherapy

Mala Chakraborty, Scott I. Abrams, Kevin Camphausen, Kebin Liu, Tamalee Scott, C. Norman Coleman, James W. Hodge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

386 Scopus citations


CD8+ CTL play important roles against malignancy in both active and passive immunotherapy. Nonetheless, the success of antitumor CTL responses may be improved by additional therapeutic modalities. Radiotherapy, which has a long-standing use in treating neoplastic disease, has been found to induce unique biologic alterations in cancer cells affecting Fas gene expression, which, consequently, may influence the overall lytic efficiency of CTL. Here, in a mouse adenocarcinoma cell model, we examined whether exposure of these tumor cells to sublethal doses of irradiation 1) enhances Fas expression, leading to more efficient CTL killing via Fas-dependent mechanisms in vitro; and 2) improves antitumor activity in vivo by adoptive transfer of these Ag-specific CTL. Treatment of carcinoembryonic Ag-expressing MC38 adenocarcinoma cells with irradiation (20 Gy) in vitro enhanced Fas expression at molecular, phenotypic, and functional levels. Furthermore, irradiation sensitized these targets to Ag-specific CTL killing via the Fas/Fas ligand pathway. We examined the effect of localized irradiation of s.c. growing tumors on the efficiency of CTL adoptive immunotherapy. Irradiation caused up-regulation of Fas by these tumor cells in situ, based on immunohistochemistry. Moreover, localized irradiation of the tumor significantly potentiated tumor rejection by these carcinoembryonic Ag-specific CTL. Overall, these results showed for the first time that 1) regulation of the Fas pathway in tumor cells by irradiation plays an important role in their sensitization to Ag-specific CTL; and 2) a combination regimen of tumor-targeted irradiation and CTL promotes more effective antitumor responses in vivo, which may have implications for the combination of immunotherapy and radiation therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6338-6347
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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