THE ARTICLE by Terry Shibuya and colleagues1 in this issue of the ARCHIVES deserves special attention for several reasons. First, it contains new information that has broad multidisciplinary interest but is particularly important for the specialist in head and neck cancer. These investigators report that modification of surgical suture by coating it with anti-CD3/anti-CD28 monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) leads to enhancement of immune functions in T lymphocytes obtained from the peripheral blood of healthy individuals as well as from the blood or lymph nodes of patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. The MoAbs used by Shibuya et al have long been known to induce in vitro T-cell activation when coated onto the surface of plastic plates. Placed on the plastic surface, these MoAbs effectively cross-link the receptors on T lymphocytes (ie, T-cell receptors, of which the CD3 molecule is a part, as well as costimulatory CD28 receptors), thus providing the 2 signals necessary for activation of T cells. A similar strategy applied to surgical sutures now offers the possibility of activating T cells not only in culture but in vivo, whenever sutures are used at the site of surgical intervention. Apparently, precoating the surgical suture with these MoAbs is analogous to coating plastic, as it also results in the up-regulation of multiple functions in T cells. The finding is important not only for surgeons but especially for oncologists, immunotherapists, and immunologists as well as all those interested in enhancing immune functions of lymphocytes, particularly lymphocytes accumulating at the site of tissue damage.
Whiteside TL. Antibody-Coated Suture Enhances Immune Response: Important Ideas Emerge From Multidisciplinary Training. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1999;125(11):1237–1238. doi:10.1001/archotol.125.11.1237
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