Objective. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) encoded latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) is expressed by the malignant cells of about 30% of cases of Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) and is therefore a potential target for immune attack. Given the predominantly immunosuppressive nature of HL infiltrating lymphocytes (HLILs) and the ability of LMP1 to stimulate regulatory T (Treg) responses in healthy donors, we hypothesized that LMP1 was important in the generation of Treg responses in HL.
Methods. We compared T helper (Th) 1, Th2, and Treg responses to LMP1 by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and HLILs from EBV-positive and -negative HL patients. The number of Treg cells in patients' PBMCs and HLILs was determined by flow cytometry ex vivo. Proliferation (3 H-thymidine incorporation) and cytokine (interleukin [IL]-10, IL-4 and gamma-interferon) secretion by LMP1-stimulated PBMCs and HLILs was also measured.
Results. Ex vivo EBV-positive HL patients had increased numbers of IL-10-secreting/eytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen-4-expressing cells compared with EBV-negative HL patients. PBMC/HLIL responses to LMP1 from most patients were characterized by IL-10 secretion, although isolated HL patients mounted Th1-like responses. Several responses to LMP1 peptides were made by HLILs, which were otherwise unresponsive to control stimuli.
Conclusions. These results suggest that LMP1 epitopes can induce HLIL Treg cells. However, there was no clear evidence of a greater bias toward regulation in EBV-positive HL cases over EBV-negative cases, and thus there are likely to be other mechanisms of Treg cell induction in EBV-negative HL patients. Manipulating the balance of T-helper response to LMP1 might be exploited in immunotherapy of these lymphomas.
- posttransplant lymphoproliferative disease
- adoptive immunotherapy