Cytotoxic T lymphocytes induce caspase-dependent and -independent cell death in neuroblastomas in a MHC-nonrestricted fashion

Anna De Geer, Rolf Kiessling, Victor Levitsky, Jelena Levitskaya

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The MHC class I- restricted processing and presentation pathway is frequently nonfunctional in tumor cells; therefore, the direct targeting of tumor cells by CTLs may be difficult, if at all possible, to achieve. We used neuroblastoma (NB), which represents a striking example of a tumor with an impaired MHC class I pathway, as a model to study bystander effects of activated T lymphocytes on tumor cells. We found that NB cell lines are susceptible to killing by differentiated CD8+ CTL clones in a MHC class I-nonrestricted manner that involves two programs of cell death distinguished on the basis of different kinetics, sensitivities to caspase inhibitors, and cytokine-blocking reagents. The "early" death exhibited characteristic features of apoptosis, whereas the "delayed" caspase-independent death exhibited features associated with necrosis and was partially inhibited by TNF-α-blocking and prevented by overexpression of Bcl-2 or Bcl-x L. Our data reveal a previously unappreciated complexity of death pathways induced in tumor cells by immune activation and suggest that redirecting nonspecific effector CTLs to even a small proportion of NB cells or activating CTLs in a tumor's proximity may have therapeutic effects in patients with NB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7540-7550
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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