Research Papers: Immunology:

Re-balance of memory T cell subsets in peripheral blood from patients with CML after TKI treatment

Danlin Yao, Ling Xu, Jiaxiong Tan, Yikai Zhang, Shuai Lu, Mingde Li, Sichun Lu, Lijian Yang, Shaohua Chen, Jie Chen, Jing Lai, Yuhong Lu, Xiuli Wu, Xianfeng Zha and Yangqiu Li _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:81852-81859. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.20965

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Danlin Yao1,2,*, Ling Xu1,2,*, Jiaxiong Tan1,2, Yikai Zhang1,2, Shuai Lu1, Mingde Li1,2, Sichun Lu1,2, Lijian Yang1, Shaohua Chen1, Jie Chen2, Jing Lai2, Yuhong Lu2, Xiuli Wu1,2, Xianfeng Zha3 and Yangqiu Li1,2

1 Key Laboratory for Regenerative Medicine of Ministry of Education, Institute of Hematology, Jinan University, School of Medicine, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China

2 Department of Hematology, First Affiliated Hospital, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China

3 Department of Clinical Laboratory, First Affiliated Hospital, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Yangqiu Li, email:

Keywords: memory T cells, TSCM, CML, TKI, Immunology and Microbiology Section, Immune response, Immunity

Received: June 28, 2017 Accepted: August 27, 2017 Published: September 16, 2017


T cell immune surveillance is considered an important host protection process for inhibiting carcinogenesis. The full capacity of T cell immune surveillance is dependent on T cell homeostasis, particularly for central memory T (TCM) cells and stem cell memory T (TSCM) cells. In this study, distribution of T cell subsets in peripheral blood from 12 patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and 12 cases with CML in complete remission (CR) was analyzed using a multicolor flow cytometer, and 16 samples from healthy individuals (HIs) served as control. The proportion of CD8+ TSCM and CD4+ and CD8+ TCM cells were lower, while CD4+ effector memory T (TEM) cells and CD4+ and CD8+ terminal effector T (TEF) cells were higher in CML patients compared with HIs. Moreover, the proportion of CD8+CD28- T cells, which were found to have the immune suppressive function, increased in the naive T (TN) cell and TCM subsets in CML patients compared with HIs. Our study reveals that elimination of leukemia cells by treating with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) restores the memory T cell distribution from a skewed pattern in CML patients who are under leukemia burden, indicating that leukemia-specific immune responses mediated by T cells might be induced and maintained in CML patients, however, these responsive T cells might gradually become exhausted due to the continued existence of leukemia cells and their environment; therefore, T cell activation using a different approach remains a key point for enhancing global T cell immunity in CML patients, even for those with CR status.

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