Mammaglobin-A cDNA vaccination of breast cancer patients induces antigen-specific cytotoxic CD4+ICOShi T cells

Venkataswarup Tiriveedhi, Timothy P. Fleming, Peter S. Goedegebuure, Michael Naughton, Cynthia Ma, Craig Lockhart, Feng Gao, William E. Gillanders, T. Mohanakumar

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48 Scopus citations


Mammaglobin-A (Mam-A) is a 10 kDa secretory protein that is overexpressed in 80 % of primary and metastatic human breast cancers. Previous studies from our laboratory demonstrated that Mam-A cDNA vaccine can induce Mam-A-specific CD8 T cell responses and mediate regression of human breast cancer xenografts in NOD/SCID mice. In this article, we present our results on a phase I clinical trial of a Mam-A cDNA vaccination in breast cancer patients with stage-IV metastatic disease, including the impact of vaccination on the expression of the inducible co-stimulator molecule (ICOS) on CD4 T cells. Specimens from seven patients with stage-IV metastatic cancer were available for these analyses. Patients were vaccinated with a Mam-A cDNA vaccine on days 0, 28, and 56, and immune responses were assessed at serial time points following vaccination. At 6 months following the first vaccination, flow cytometric analysis demonstrated a significant increase in the frequency of CD4+ICOShi T cells from 5 ± 2 % pre-vaccination to 23 ± 4 % (p < 0.001), with a concomitant decrease in the frequency of CD4+FoxP3+ T cells (regulatory T cells [Treg]) from 19 ± 6 to 10 ± 5 % (p < 0.05). ELISpot analysis of CD4+ICOShi sorted T cells demonstrated that following vaccination the cytokines produced by Mam-A-specific T cells switched from IL-10 (78 ± 21 spm pre-vaccination to 32 ± 14 spm 5 months post-vaccine p < 0.001) to IFN-γ (12 ± 6 spm pre-vaccination to 124 ± 31 spm 5 months post-vaccine p < 0.001). The ratio of CD4+ICOShi T cells to CD4+FoxP3+ T cells increased from 0.37 ± 0.12 before vaccination to 2.3 ± 0.72 (p = 0.021) following vaccination. Further, these activated CD4+ICOShi T cells induced preferential lysis of human breast cancer cells expressing Mam-A protein. We conclude that Mam-A cDNA vaccination is associated with specific expansion and activation of CD4+ICOShi T cells, with a concomitant decrease in Treg frequency. These encouraging results strongly suggest that Mam-A cDNA vaccination can induce antitumor immunity in breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-118
Number of pages10
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Breast cancer
  • DNA vaccine
  • ICOS
  • Mammaglobin-A
  • T cells


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