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The Hypothesis of the Human iNKT/Innate CD8(+) T-Cell Axis Applied to Cancer: Evidence for a Deficiency in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

Abstract : We recently identified a new human subset of NK-like [KIR/NKG2A(+)] CD8(+) T cells with a marked/memory phenotype, high Eomesodermin expression, potent antigen-independent cytotoxic activity, and the capacity to generate IFN-γ rapidly after exposure to pro-inflammatory cytokines. These features support the hypothesis that this new member of the innate T cell family in humans, hereafter referred to as innate CD8(+) T cells, has a role in cancer immune surveillance analogous to invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells. Here, we report the first quantitative and functional analysis of innate CD8(+) T cells in a physiopathological context in humans, namely chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a well-characterized myeloproliferative disorder. We have chosen CML based on our previous report that IL-4 production by iNKT cells was deficient in CML patients at diagnosis and considering the recent evidence in mice that IL-4 promotes the generation/differentiation of innate CD8(+) T cells. We found that the pool of innate CD8(+) T cells was severely reduced in the blood of CML patients at diagnosis. Moreover, like iNKT and NK cells, innate CD8(+) T cells were functionally impaired, as attested by their loss of antigen-independent cytotoxic activity and IFN-γ production in response to innate-like stimulation with IL-12 + IL-18. Remarkably, as previously reported for IL-4 production by iNKT cells, both quantitative and functional deficiencies of innate CD8(+) T cells were at least partially corrected in patients having achieved complete cytogenetic remission following tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy. Finally, direct correlation between the functional potential of innate CD8(+) T and iNKT cells was found when considering all healthy donors and CML patients in diagnosis and remission, in accordance with the iNKT cell-dependent generation of innate CD8(+) T cells reported in mice. All in all, our data demonstrate that CML is associated with deficiencies of innate CD8(+) T cells that are restored upon remission, thereby suggesting their possible contribution to disease control. More generally, our study strongly supports the existence of an innate iNKT/innate CD8(+) T-cell axis in humans and reveals its potential contribution to the restoration of tumor immune surveillance.
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Florence Jacomet, Emilie Cayssials, Alice Barbarin, Déborah Desmier, Sara Basbous, et al.. The Hypothesis of the Human iNKT/Innate CD8(+) T-Cell Axis Applied to Cancer: Evidence for a Deficiency in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. Frontiers in Immunology, Frontiers, 2017, 7, pp.688. ⟨10.3389/fimmu.2016.00688⟩. ⟨inserm-02508027⟩

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