Scanning Microscopy


Adhesion molecules involved in the interaction between immune system effector cells and tumor targets are surface molecules which contribute to the formation of cell-to-cell contacts and belong to the integrin family. In this paper, the role played by the adhesion molecules in the process of cell-mediated cytotoxicity is reviewed. Furthermore, the contact area between effector and target cells has been analyzed by scanning electron microscopy. This region, termed "closed chamber", seems to contribute to killing efficiency by creating an intimate contact region in which cytotoxic factors can easily induce lethal hit in target cell. Thus, the extension of the closed chamber seems to be positively related to effector cell killing potential as well as to target cell sensitivity and, in this context, the adhesion molecules prove to play a pivotal role. In fact, a receptor-ligand interaction occurs between CD11a/CD18 (LFA-1) and CD2 molecules, expressed on the effector cells, and the respective counterparts on target cells, i.e., ICAM-1, ICAM-2, or LFA-3. Treatment with antibodies against such molecules strongly modifies closed chamber formation without inhibiting cell-to-cell binding. Nevertheless, in these conditions, the killing ability of different effector cells toward tumor targets appears to be strongly impaired. Hence, the adhesion molecules seem to be strongly involved in the formation of the closed chamber as well as in the activation of effector cell killing machinery.

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