Neo-antigen specific T cell responses indicate the presence of metastases before imaging

V. S. Fear, C. A. Forbes, J. Chee, S. Ma, S. Neeve, L. Celliers, S. A. Fisher, I. Dick, J. Creaney, B. W.S. Robinson

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) causes 19% of all Australian cancer deaths, with a 5-year survival post-resection of around 60%. Post-operative recurrence is due to metastases that were undetectable pre-operatively, or growth of microscopic locoregional residual disease. However, post-operative imaging modalities typically only detect more advanced tumours; where PET-CT has a detection limit of 6-7 mm. Detection of small deposits of lung metastatic disease is of importance in order to facilitate early and potentially more effective treatment. In this study, in a murine model of lung metastatic disease, we explore whether neo-antigen specific T cells are a sensitive marker for the detection of lung cancer after primary tumour resection. We determine lung metastatic disease by histology, and then compare detection by PET-CT and neo-antigen specific T cell frequency. Detection of lung metastatic disease within the histology positive group by PET-CT and neo-antigen specific T cell frequency were 22.9% and 92.2%, respectively. Notably, neo-antigen specific T cells in the lung draining lymph node were indicative of metastatic disease (82.8 ± 12.9 spots/105 cells; mean ± SE), compared to healthy lung control (28.5 ± 8.6 spots/105 cells; mean ± SE). Potentially, monitoring tumour neo-antigen specific T cell profiles is a highly sensitive method for determining disease recurrence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14640
Number of pages1
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


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