Improving T-Cell Therapy for Relapsed EBV-Negative Hodgkin Lymphoma by Targeting Upregulated MAGE-A4

Cruz et al., Clin. Cancer Res. (2011) - PMID: 21908573

Product(s) used in this publication: PepMix™ Peptide Pools



Patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) relapsing after hematopoietic stem cell transplant have limited options for long-term cure. We have shown that infused cytotoxic T cells (CTL) targeting Epstein Barr virus (EBV)-derived proteins induced complete remissions in EBV(+) HL patients. A limitation of this approach is that up to 70% of relapsed HL tumors are EBV-negative. For these patients, an alternative is to target the cancer/testis antigen MAGE-A4 present in EBV antigen-negative HL tumors. Furthermore, epigenetic modification by clinically available demethylating agents can enhance MAGE-A4 expression in previously MAGE-negative tumors.


We explored the feasibility of combining adoptive T cell therapy with epigenetic modification of tumor antigen expression. We further characterized MAGE-A4-specific T-cell phenotype and function, and examined the effects of the epigenetic modifying drug decitabine on these T cells.


Cytotoxic T cells were generated specifically recognizing MAGE-A4 expressed by autologous HL targets and tumor cell lines. Decitabine-previously shown to increase tumor antigen expression in HL-did not compromise MAGE-A4-specific T-cell phenotype and function. In patients treated with decitabine, expanded MAGE-A4-specific T cells had a broader antitumor T cell repertoire, consistent with increased antigen stimulation in vivo.


Adoptive transfer of MAGE-A4-specific T cells, combined with epigenetic modifying drugs to increase expression of the protein, may improve treatment of relapsed HL.

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