gms | German Medical Science

82nd Annual Meeting of the German Society of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery

German Society of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery

01.06. - 05.06.2011, Freiburg

Immunologic targeting of cancer stem cells

Meeting Abstract

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  • Tian Liao - Hals-Nasen-Ohrenklinik, Charité - Universitätsmedizin, Berlin
  • Andreas Kaufmann - Gynäkologie, Charité - Universitätsmedizin, Berlin
  • corresponding author Andreas Albers - Hals-Nasen-Ohrenklinik, Charité - Universitätsmedizin, Berlin

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Hals-Nasen-Ohren-Heilkunde, Kopf- und Hals-Chirurgie. 82. Jahresversammlung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Hals-Nasen-Ohren-Heilkunde, Kopf- und Hals-Chirurgie. Freiburg i. Br., 01.-05.06.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc11hnod206

doi: 10.3205/11hnod206, urn:nbn:de:0183-11hnod2064

Published: April 19, 2011

© 2011 Liao et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Tumor recurrence has been attributed to a subset of tumor cells, called cancer stem cells (CSCs), which are more resistant to the effect of established treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. One novel approach is T cell-mediated antitumor immunotherapy targeting these CSCs. However, the key point is that their sensitivity to the host’s cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-mediated immune response is still obscure. In this study, we investigated 3D-cultures (“spheroids”) enriched for CSC-like cells from head and neck cancer and cervical cancer cell lines and investigated their susceptibility to allogeneic tumor antigen-specific CD8+ CTL lysis. To characterize these cultures we determined expression of aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) (28% in spheroids vs. <1% in monolayer) and other stem/progenitor cell markers (SOX2, Oct-4, Nanog). As compared to more “differentiated” monolayer-derived tumor cells, they expressed lower levels of MHC I but higher levels of ICAM-1 (P<0.05). These expression levels could be upregulated by interferon-γ (IFN-γ) treatment. Furthermore, CSC-like cells were less sensitive to MHC I-restricted CD8+ CTL-mediated cytotoxicity compared to non-CSC-like cells and there was no change in killing when they were pretreated with IFN-γ (P<0.05). Finally, we compared killing of ALDH1-positive cancer stem cell-like spheroid-derived cells to the ALDH1-negative cell population by allo-antigen specific CD8+ CTLs. The interaction between CSC and the human immune system may provide a basis for developing CTL-based antitumor vaccines targeting CSCs to eliminate specifically this tumor population, and thereby decrease recurrence and enhance patient’s long-term survival.