"Immunologic Basis of Immunotherapy in Renal Cell Carcinoma"
James Finke, Ph.D.


Dr. James Finke, Ph.D is a member of the Deptartment of Immunology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Dr. Finke received a B.S. in Biology from Kansas State College, his M.S. in Microbiology and Ph.D. in Immunology from the U. of Missouri. He did postdoctoral training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He has done extensive research in immunology and has published over 94 articles on this topic.



The thymus gland is where T-cells mature, bone marrow is where B-cells mature. After maturing, they go to sites all over the body: spleen, liver, lungs, lymph, and peripheral blood.

Monocyte (in blood) or Macrophage (in tissue): same cell but different names depending on location. Functions:

  1. Engulfs foreign material (such as bacteria). Produces inflammation. They make cytokines when activated, increase the permeability of blood vessels, allowing cells to move through and accumulate in tissue.
  2. Chops up engulfed virus and moves segments to cell surface to "present" antigens to T-cells (T-cells can't see or recognize the antigens in "native form" in the whole virus).

Other antigen-presenting cells: B-Cells, Dendritic (Dendritic are the most potent and most important)


This is the mechanism of viral immunity, transplant rejection, auto-immune response, and tumor rejection. T-cells get much larger when activated compared to when resting.

  1. CD-4: CD-4 protein helps docking to antigen-presenting cell. Antigen is displayed by Class II MHC molecules. T-cells are antigen-specific (specificity in response means the individual T-cells have "learned" to respond to a single antigen, so that only activated T-cell will respond and proliferate, while the other T-cells will remain at rest). When activated, a host of proteins are produced, along with IL-2 receptors, allowing the T-cell to auto-activate to stimulate proliferation.
  2. Two Ways the T-Cell Kills: Initiate programmed cell death (apoptosis); or release of granules (protein perfarin) which produce a hole in the infected cell and the cell blows up (this takes 40 minutes).
  3. NK Cell: Natural Killer cells are naturally cytotoxic. Larger and contain granules. They are non-specific (no T-cell receptor) and are activated by IL-2.
  4. B-Cells: When activated, they become a factory to produce antibodies. Antibodies bind to foreign cells to inactivate them. This also makes these cells more "appetizing" to the macrophages which engulf them.

In most kidney cancers you see the tumor infiltrated with most of the cell types, indicating there is an immune response. A number of antigens are known to be expressed in RCC and these can be used as targets for T-Cells.

This Kidney Cancer FAQ Page By PJ Boyle. Copyright 2001 PJ Boyle
Last Updated August 3, 2001