The migration and concentration of lymphocytes at sites of antigenic challenge are an integral part of the expression of delayed cutaneous hypersensitivity, as well as of tumor and graft rejection. In this study, we have analyzed the migration of T lymphocytes from patients with malignancy. We used casein and concanavalin A (Con A)-stimulated mononuclear cell supernatants to stimulate T cell locomotion. Peripheral blood T lymphocytes from 30 patients with established malignancy, 10 patients with indolent malignancy or benign tumor, and 42 normal adult controls were tested. Data are expressed as a migration index (MI), which represents the difference in micrometers between the distance migrated in response to a stimulus and the distance migrated in response to media alone. We observed a marked depression in casein-stimulated T lymphocyte migration in patients with established malignancy (mean MI +/- 1 SD = 17.0 +/- 9 microns) as compared with normal adult controls (mean MI +/- 1 SD = 35.3 +/- 10 microns). Similar results were observed with migration in response to Con A supernatants. T cells from patients with established malignancy had a mean MI of 5.8 +/- 4 microns to Con A supernatants as compared with 24.5 +/- 5 for controls. This depressed migration was apparent both in the distance that cells migrated and in the number of cells that migrated into the membrane. Of 10 patients with indolent malignancy or benign tumor, T cell migration in 8 was not significantly decreased as compared with controls. When we mixed equal concentrations of normal control T lymphocytes with T lymphocytes from patients with cancer and added the mixture directly to the upper compartment of the chemotaxis chamber, the response of the normal T cells to casein was inhibited by an average of 48%. We observed inhibition of this migration of normal cells when we added as little as 10% of patient cells to normal cells. When we mixed normal control T lymphocytes from different donors and added them directly to the upper compartment of the chemotaxis chamber, T lymphocyte migration in response to casein was not significantly altered. If T cells from patients with cancer were cultured overnight, the suppressive effect on lymphocyte locomotion was lost. Our results indicate that there is a population of T lymphocytes in patients with cancer that suppress normal T lymphocyte migration. This suppressor activity may partially explain the subversion of immunosurveillance in established neoplastic states, as well as the defective inflammatory reaction to intradermal injection of antigen observed in many patients with malignancy.


D G Hesse, D J Cole, D E Van Epps, R C Williams Jr


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