Malignant mesothelioma is a cancer with dismal prognosis. The objective of the present study was to address the role of the immune system, tumour micro-environment and potential immunosuppression in mesothelioma. Expression profiles of 80 cytokines were determined in the supernatant of mesothelioma cell lines and the original patient's pleural effusion. Influx of immune effector cells was detected by immunohistochemistry. Angiogenin, vascular endothelial growth factor, transforming growth factor-β, epithelial neutrophil-activating protein-78 and several other proteins involved in immune suppression, angiogenesis and plasma extravasation could be detected in both supernatant and pleural effusion. Surrounding stroma and/or infiltrating cells were the most likely source of hepatocyte growth factor, macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1δ, MIP-3α, neutrophil-activating peptide-2, and pulmonary and activation-regulated chemokine that can cause leukocyte infiltration and activation. There was a massive influx of CD4+ and CD8+ T-lymphocytes and macrophages, but not of dendritic cells, in human mesothelioma biopsies. It was further demonstrated that human mesothelioma tissue contained significant amounts of Foxp3+CD4+CD25+ regulatory T-cells. When these CD25+ regulatory T-cells were depleted in an in vivo mouse model, survival increased. Mesothelioma is infiltrated by immune effector cells but also contains cytokines and regulatory T-cells that suppress an efficient immune response. Immunotherapy of mesothelioma might be more effective when combined with drugs that eliminate or control regulatory T-cells. Copyright

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The European Respiratory Journal
Department of Pulmonology

Hegmans, J.P.J.J, Hemmes, A, Hammad, H, Boon, L, Hoogsteden, H.C, & Lambrecht, B.N.M. (2006). Mesothelioma environment comprises cytokines and T-regulatory cells that suppress immune responses. The European Respiratory Journal, 27(6), 1086–1095. doi:10.1183/09031936.06.00135305