CD4+ T cells control the effector function, memory, and maintenance of CD8+ T cells. Paradoxically, we found that absence of CD4+ T cells enhanced adoptive immunotherapy of cancer when using CD8+ T cells directed against a persisting tumor/self-Ag. However, adoptive transfer of CD4+CD25- Th cells (Th cells) with tumor/self-reactive CD8+ T cells and vaccination into CD4+ T cell-deficient hosts induced autoimmunity and regression of established melanoma. Transfer of CD4+ T cells that contained a mixture of Th and CD4+CD25+ T regulatory cells (Treg cells) or Treg cells alone prevented effective adoptive immunotherapy. Maintenance of CD8+ T cell numbers and function was dependent on Th cells that were capable of IL-2 production because therapy failed when Th cells were derived from IL-2-/- mice. These findings reveal that Th cells can help break tolerance to a persisting self-Ag and treat established tumors through an IL-2-dependent mechanism, but requires simultaneous absence of naturally occurring Treg cells to be effective.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy