Impaired immune responses occur frequently in cancer patients or in tumor-bearing animals, but the mechanisms of the tumor-induced immune defects remain poorly understood. The aim of the present study was to determine the relevance of the immune system in the control of tumor growth. We have developed a model of progressive and non-progressive mammary tumor, chemically induced in female Wistar rats. In this model we evaluated the development of an immune response after immunization of rats bearing progressive and non-progressive tumors with a nonrelated antigen, such as sheep red blood cells. We also studied the activation state of peritoneal macrophages from animals bearing tumors by evaluating the production of free radicals. Our findings indicated that the cell-mediated immunity in rats bearing progressive tumors fails to respond to heterologous antigen in vivo, as demonstrated by a negative delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction, and is accompanied by minor nitric oxide production by peritoneal exudate cells as well as a lower capacity for macrophage activation. The study of non- progressive tumor-beating rats indicated that the cell-mediated immune response was intact and an activated state of macrophages was found in vivo. The results described in this paper should be taken into account when therapies based on cancer vaccines are chosen for the treatment of cancer.
- DTH reaction
- Nitric oxide
- Oxygen radicals
- Progressive and non-progressive tumor