The study of the autologous immune response to cancer avoids the difficulties encountered in the use of xenoantisera and may identify antigens of physiological relevance. However, the low titer and incidence of autologous antibody to melanoma have hampered further evaluation. By utilizing acid dissociation and ultrafiltration of serum, we have been able to augment the detectable autologous immune response to melanoma in the majority of patients studied. In autologous system Y-Mel 84:420, serum S150 demonstrated a rise in titer from 1:32 in native sera to 1:262,044 after dissociation. The antigen detected by S150 was found to be broadly represented on melanoma, glioma, renal cell carcinoma, neuroblastoma, and head and neck carcinoma cell lines. It did not react with bladder or colon carcinoma, fetal fibroblasts, pooled platelets, lymphocytes and red blood cells, or autologous cultured lymphocytes. Using polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, S150 detects a 66,000-mol wt antigen in spent tissue culture media and serum ultrafiltrate. In cell lysate two bands between 20,000 and 30,000 mol wt are detected by S150. The 66,000-mol wt antigen is sensitive to trypsin digestion and but is resistant to pepsin and heat inactivation. Exposure of spent media to trypsin results in the development of a 24,000-mol wt band that appears to correspond to the antigen detected in the cell lysate. The difference between the antigens detected in the cell lysate as compared with spent media and serum ultrafiltrate may be due to degradation during cell lysis. We conclude that melanoma-associated antigens are present in the serum of patients with melanoma and are shed or secreted by their tumor cells.
D R Vlock, D Scalise, N Meglin, J M Kirkwood, B Ballou