Background: Cancer testis (CT) antigens are promising targets for cancer immunotherapies such as cancer vaccines and genetically modified adoptive T cell therapy. In this study, we evaluated the expression of three CT antigens, melanoma-associated antigen A4 (MAGE-A4), New York oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma 1 (NY-ESO-1) and sarcoma antigen gene (SAGE).
Methods: MAGE-A4, NY-ESO-1 and/or SAGE antigen expression in tumour samples was evaluated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Informed consent was obtained from individuals prior to study enrolment.
Results: In total, 585 samples in 21 tumour types were evaluated between June 2009 and March 2018. The positive expression rates of these CT antigens were as follows: MAGE-A4, 34.6% (range, 30.7-38.7); NY-ESO-1, 21.0% (range, 17.2-25.1); and SAGE, 21.8% (range, 18.5-25.4). The MAGE-A4 antigen was expressed in 54.9% of oesophageal cancers, 37.5% of head and neck cancers, 35.0% of gastric cancers and 34.2% of ovarian cancers; the NY-ESO-1 antigen was expressed in 28.6% of lung cancers, 25.3% of oesophageal cancers and 22.6% of ovarian cancers; and the SAGE antigen was expressed in 35.3% of prostate cancers, 32.9% of oesophageal cancers and 26.3% of ovarian cancers. The most common tumour type in this study was oesophageal cancer. MAGE-A4, NY-ESO-1 and SAGE antigen expression were assessed in 214 oesophageal cancer samples, among which 24 (11.2%) were triple-positive, 58 (27.1%) were positive for any two, 59 (27.6%) were positive for any one, and 73 (34.1%) were triple negative.
Conclusions: Oesophageal cancer exhibited a relatively high rate of CT antigen mRNA expression positivity.