Expression of CD3-ζ on T-cells in primary cervical carcinoma and in metastasis-positive and -negative pelvic lymph nodes

T. D. De Gruijl, H. J. Bontkes, F. Peccatori, M. P.W. Gallee, Th J.M. Helmerhorst, R. H.M. Verheijen, J. Aarbiou, W. M.C. Mulder, J. M.M. Walboomers, C. J.L.M. Meijer, N. Van De Vange, R. J. Scheper

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Lymphocytic infiltrate is often present in cervical cancer lesions, possibly reflecting an ongoing, but ineffective, immune response to the tumour. Recently, evidence has accumulated for systemically impaired T-cell functions in cancer patients, associated with decreased expression of signal-transducing zeta (ζ) chain dimer molecules on circulating T-cells and NK-cells. Here, we report on the intralesional downregulation of ζ chain expression on T-cells in cervical carcinoma. Paraffin-embedded or snap-frozen sections from 24 different cervical cancer specimens were studied. Paraffin-embedded tumour-positive (n = 7) and tumour-negative (n = 15) pelvic lymph nodes were also included in the study. Immunostaining was performed on consecutive sections with antibodies specific for CD3-ε or the CD3-associated ζ chain dimer. Antigen retrieval by sodium citrate/microwave treatment was essential for ζ staining of paraffin sections. The amount of ζ positive cells was quantitated and related to the number of CD3-ε+ cells in corresponding tumour areas. Of the 24 cervical cancer specimens studied, ζ chain dimer expression was reduced in seven cases and strongly reduced in the other 17 samples. In tonsil control sections, CD3-ε and CD3-ζ were always co-expressed in almost equal numbers. Also, both tumour-negative and -positive lymph nodes showed ζ chain expression which equalled that of CD3-ε expression. These data indicate that a decreased expression of signal-transducing ζ molecules on tumour-infiltrating T-cells is frequent in cervical cancer. The apparently unimpaired ζ chain expression within draining lymph nodes suggests that local tumour-derived factors at the primary site are instrumental in ζ chain down-regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1127-1132
Number of pages6
JournalBritish journal of cancer
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 1999


  • Cervical carcinoma
  • Cervical dysplasia
  • T-lymphocytes
  • ζ chain

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