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We conducted a clinical trial of peptide prostate specific antigen (PSA): 154-163 (155L) vaccination in human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A2 patients with detectable and rising serum PSA after radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer ( identifier NCT00109811). The trial was a single dose-level, phase 2 pilot trial of 1 mg of PSA: 154-163 (155L) emulsified with adjuvant (Montanide ISA-51). The primary endpoint was the determination of immunogenicity of the vaccine; secondary outcomes were determination of toxicity and effect on serum PSA. The vaccine was given subcutaneously 7 times on weeks 0, 2, 4, 6, 10, 14, and 18. Peptide-specific CD8 T-cell responses in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of patients were measured by interferon (IFN)-[gamma] enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assay. CD8 T-cell cultures were also established by in vitro stimulation with the peptide presented by autologous dendritic cells. Five patients were enrolled and completed all vaccinations. No IFN-[gamma] response to PSA: 154-163 (155L) was detected in unfractioned PBMC in any patient either before or after vaccination. Three of 5 patients demonstrated strong IFN-[gamma] responses to PSA: 154-163 (155L) and native PSA: 154-163 peptides in CD8 T-cell cultures derived from postvaccination PBMC. However, peptide-specific T cells failed to recognize HLA-A2 positive targets expressing endogenous PSA. There were no significant changes in serum PSA level in any subject. No serious adverse events were observed. PSA: 154-163 (155L) is not an effective immunogen when given with Montanide ISA-51. The PSA: 154-163 peptide is poorly processed from endogenous PSA and therefore represents a cryptic epitope of PSA in HLA-A2 antigen-presenting cells.

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