Research press release


Nature Cancer

Cancer: Immune response in some melanoma survivors persists for 9 years

免疫療法を受けた黒色腫患者4人の皮膚と血液中に、特定のタイプのT免疫細胞が診断後最長9年にわたって残存していたことを報告する論文が、Nature Cancer に掲載される。この成果は、がん免疫療法の治療効果の長期持続性に関する新たな知見をもたらす。


免疫療法を受けている黒色腫患者の中で、長期生存者は、白斑(皮膚の色素が失われる自己免疫疾患)を発症することが多い。今回、Mary Jo Turk、Christina Angelesたちの研究チームは、このような転帰を示した4人の患者を分析した。彼らは、単一細胞分析法を用いて、黒色腫の患部の皮膚と白斑の患部の皮膚の両方の試料と免疫細胞が循環する血液における、T細胞(白血球の一種)の全体像を調べた。その結果、黒色腫の患部と白斑の患部の皮膚の両方に存在し、血液中の記憶T細胞(長期免疫応答に関与するT細胞の一種)と同じ特徴を有する、特異な「常在型記憶」T細胞が見つかった。この細胞は、診断後最長9年にわたって残存し、インターフェロンγの発現が高く、これは、抗腫瘍免疫機能を有していることを示唆している。


Certain types of T immune cells remained in the skin and blood of four patients with melanoma for up to nine years after diagnosis, following immunotherapy, according to a paper published in Nature Cancer. This finding provides new understanding of the potential long-lasting benefits of cancer immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy has revolutionized cancer treatment in recent years. It encompasses a variety of approaches to stimulate or improve the ability of the immune system to recognize and eliminate tumor cells. However, only a minority of patients with cancer respond to immunotherapy. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that drive this—in particular, durable, long-term responses—to identify patients who are likely to respond, and to further develop strategies that will benefit more patients.

Among patients with melanoma who receive immunotherapy, long-term survivors are frequently found to develop vitiligo, an autoimmune condition wherein the skin loses pigment. Mary Jo Turk, Christina Angeles and colleagues analysed four patients who had exhibited this outcome. Using single-cell techniques, the authors examined the landscape of T cells (a type of white blood cell) in samples of both melanoma-affected skin and vitiligo-affected skin, and in the blood, which harbors circulating immune cells. They identified specific ‘resident memory’ T cells that were present both at the tumor site and in vitiligo-affected skin and also shared features with memory T cells (a type of T cells involved in long-term immune responses) in the blood. These cells—which were present for up to 9 years after diagnosis—had high expression of interferon gamma, indicative of anti-tumor immune function.

The authors concluded that since resident memory T cells are known to be present in pre-treatment tumors, further research with larger sample groups is needed to address how immunotherapy or the development of vitiligo affects such pre-existing populations, and whether they may be useful as a predictor of a durable response to immunotherapy.

After the embargo ends, the full paper will be available at:

doi: 10.1038/s43018-021-00180-1


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