JOURNAL ARTICLE

Tumor-infiltrating T cells correlate with NY-ESO-1-specific autoantibodies in ovarian cancer

Katy Milne, Rebecca O Barnes, Adam Girardin, Melanie A Mawer, Nancy J Nesslinger, Alvin Ng, Julie S Nielsen, Robert Sahota, Eric Tran, John R Webb, May Q Wong, Darin A Wick, Andrew Wray, Elissa McMurtrie, Martin Köbel, Steven E Kalloger, C Blake Gilks, Peter H Watson, Brad H Nelson
PloS One 2008, 3 (10): e3409
18923710

BACKGROUND: Tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells are correlated with prolonged progression-free and overall survival in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). A significant fraction of EOC patients mount autoantibody responses to various tumor antigens, however the relationship between autoantibodies and tumor-infiltrating T cells has not been investigated in EOC or any other human cancer. We hypothesized that autoantibody and T cell responses may be correlated in EOC and directed toward the same antigens.

METHODOLOGY AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We obtained matched serum and tumor tissue from 35 patients with high-grade serous ovarian cancer. Serum samples were assessed by ELISA for autoantibodies to the common tumor antigen NY-ESO-1. Tumor tissue was examined by immunohistochemistry for expression of NY-ESO-1, various T cell markers (CD3, CD4, CD8, CD25, FoxP3, TIA-1 and Granzyme B) and other immunological markers (CD20, MHC class I and MHC class II). Lymphocytic infiltrates varied widely among tumors and included cells positive for CD3, CD8, TIA-1, CD25, FoxP3 and CD4. Twenty-six percent (9/35) of patients demonstrated serum IgG autoantibodies to NY-ESO-1, which were positively correlated with expression of NY-ESO-1 antigen by tumor cells (r = 0.57, p = 0.0004). Autoantibodies to NY-ESO-1 were associated with increased tumor-infiltrating CD8+, CD4+ and FoxP3+ cells. In an individual HLA-A2+ patient with autoantibodies to NY-ESO-1, CD8+ T cells isolated from solid tumor and ascites were reactive to NY-ESO-1 by IFN-gamma ELISPOT and MHC class I pentamer staining.

CONCLUSION AND SIGNIFICANCE: We demonstrate that tumor-specific autoantibodies and tumor-infiltrating T cells are correlated in human cancer and can be directed against the same target antigen. This implies that autoantibodies may collaborate with tumor-infiltrating T cells to influence clinical outcomes in EOC. Furthermore, serological screening methods may prove useful for identifying clinically relevant T cell antigens for immunotherapy.

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