Mucin 1 (MUC1), a bound mucin glycoprotein, is overexpressed and aberrantly glycosylated in >80% of human ductal pancreatic carcinoma. Evidence suggests that MUC1 can be used as a tumor marker and is a potential target for immunotherapy of pancreatic cancer. However, vaccination with MUC1 peptides fails to stimulate the immune response against cancer cells because immunity toward tumor-associated antigens (TAA), including MUC1, in cancer patients is relatively weak, and the presentation of these TAAs to the immune system is poor due to their low immunogenicity. We investigated whether vaccination with immunogenetically enhanced MUC1 (by expressing α-gal epitopes; Galα1-3Galβ1-4GlcNAc-R) can elicit effective antibody production for MUC1 itself as well as certain TAAs derived from pancreatic cancer cells and induced tumor-specific T-cell responses. We also used α1, 3galactosyltransferase (α1,3GT) knockout mice that were preimmunized with pig kidney and transplanted with B16F10 melanoma cells transfected with MUC1 expression vector. Vaccination of these mice with α-gal MUC1 resulted in marked inhibition of tumor growth and significant improvement of overall survival time compared with mice vaccinated with MUC1 alone (P = 0.003). Furthermore, vaccination with pancreatic cancer cells expressing α-gal epitopes induced immune responses against not only differentiated cancer cells but also cancer stem cells. The results suggested that vaccination using cells engineered to express α-gal epitopes is a novel strategy for treatment of pancreatic cancer.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research