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Human Mucosa-Associated Invariant T Cells Accumulate in Colon Adenocarcinomas but Produce Reduced Amounts of IFN-γ.

Journal article
Authors Patrik Sundström
Filip Ahlmanner
Paulina Akeus
Malin Sundquist
Samuel Alsén
Ulf Yrlid
Lars Börjesson
Åsa Sjöling
Bengt Gustavsson
S B Justin Wong
Marianne Quiding-Järbrink
Published in Journal of Immunology
Volume 195
Issue 7
Pages 3472-3481
ISSN 0022-1767
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Surgery
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Pages 3472-3481
Language en
Subject categories Surgery, Clinical Laboratory Medicine


Mucosa-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are innate-like T cells with a conserved TCR α-chain recognizing bacterial metabolites presented on the invariant MHC-related 1 molecule. MAIT cells are present in intestinal tissues and liver, and they rapidly secrete IFN-γ and IL-17 in response to bacterial insult. In colon cancer, IL-17-driven inflammation promotes tumor progression, whereas IFN-γ production is essential for antitumor immunity. Thus, tumor-associated MAIT cells may affect antitumor immune responses by their secreted cytokines. However, the knowledge of MAIT cell presence and function in tumors is virtually absent. In this study, we determined the frequency, phenotype, and functional capacity of MAIT cells in colon adenocarcinomas and unaffected colon lamina propria. Flow cytometric analyses showed significant accumulation of MAIT cells in tumor tissue, irrespective of tumor stage or localization. Colonic MAIT cells displayed an activated memory phenotype and expression of chemokine receptors CCR6 and CCR9. Most MAIT cells in unaffected colon tissues produced IFN-γ, whereas only few produced IL-17. Colonic MAIT cells also produced TNF-α, IL-2, and granzyme B. In the tumors, significantly lower frequencies of IFN-γ-producing MAIT cells were seen, whereas there were no differences in the other cytokines analyzed, and in vitro studies showed that secreted factors from tumor tissue reduced IFN-γ production from MAIT cells. In conclusion, MAIT cells infiltrate colon tumors but their ability to produce IFN-γ is substantially reduced. We suggest that MAIT cells have the capacity to promote local immune responses to tumors, but factors in the tumor microenvironment act to reduce MAIT cell IFN-γ production.

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