Intratumoral injection of α-gal glycolipids induces a protective anti-tumor T cell response which overcomes Treg activity

Ussama M. Abdel-Motal, Kim Wigglesworth, Uri Galili

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26 Citations (Scopus)


α-Gal glycolipids capable of converting tumors into endogenous vaccines, have α-gal epitopes (Galα1-3Galβ1-4GlcNAc-R) and are extracted from rabbit RBC membranes. α-Gal epitopes bind anti-Gal, the most abundant natural antibody in humans constituting 1% of immunoglobulins. α-Gal glycolipids insert into tumor cell membranes, bind anti-Gal and activate complement. The complement cleavage peptides C5a and C3a recruit inflammatory cells and APC into the treated lesion. Anti-Gal further opsonizes the tumor cells and targets them for effective uptake by recruited APC, via Fcγ receptors. These APC transport internalized tumor cells to draining lymph nodes, and present immunogenic tumor antigen peptides for activation of tumor specific T cells. The present study demonstrates the ability of α-gal glycolipids treatment to prevent development of metastases at distant sites and to protect against tumor challenge in the treated mice. Adoptive transfer studies indicate that this protective immune response is mediated by CD8+ T cells, activated by tumor lesions turned vaccine. This T cell activation is potent enough to overcome the suppressive activity of Treg cells present in tumor bearing mice, however it does not elicit an autoimmune response against antigens on normal cells. Insertion of α-gal glycolipids and subsequent binding of anti-Gal are further demonstrated with human melanoma cells, suggesting that intratumoral injection of α-gal glycolipids is likely to elicit a protective immune response against micrometastases also in cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1545-1556
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009



  • Anti-Gal antibody
  • Anti-tumor immune response
  • Cancer immunotherapy
  • Tumor vaccine
  • α-Gal glycolipids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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