A chemically induced syngeneic hamster tumour model of human oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) was used to investigate the possible influence of locally transplanted growing rumours on the immune system of the recipient. Cell activation and cell cytotoxicity assays were performed in vitro using the colorimetric MTT assay to measure any possible changes. The fast growing nature of the tumour model if grafted locally as a fragment was confirmed but not if injected as a single cell suspension (SCS). Stimulation (Concanavalin A) of spleen cells from normal and from tumour bearing animals showed that there was a minor though statistically significant decrease in the mitogenic response of the latter. Thus, the respective stimulatory indices (SI) were 4.06+/-1.61 and 2.06+/-0.87 (0.02
0.01). No significant difference was observed when spleen cells were stimulated with interleukin-2 (IL-2), although there was a similar trend. Pre-immunisation of animals with irradiated autologous SCS three weeks prior to grafting, resulted in a significant decrease in the tumour growth rate of subsequently grafted tumour. Thus, the mean If: SD (weight of takes in mg) for the successful takes of untreated (n=10) and treated (n=9) groups were 52.0+/-52.2 and 25.7+/-19.4 (0.02
0.05) respectively. The number of cases with no tumour takes were 2 of 10 (20%) and 6 of 9 (66%) respectively. In a separate experiment groups of 5 animals were immunized with an increasing number of cells as irradiated SCS, the results of which demonstrated an inverse correlation between the rate of tumour growth and the number of injected tumour cells. The addition of irradiated SCS to IL-2 activated normal spleen cells (LAK cells) in vitro led to a dose-related decrease in the efficiency of cytotoxicity of latter when tested against an xenogeneic super-sensitive surrogate tumour target cell line (Fen cells). Thus, the percent killing by IL-2-activated normal spleen cells was 56.4%. The corresponding mean values for IL-2 activated normal spleen cells in the presence of tumour SCS at 25/1 and 50/1 ratios were 35.9% (p<0.05) and 11.9% (p<0.001) respectively. Ln an attempt to establish the presence of T suppressor cells, spleen cells from tumour bearing animals were injected concomitantly with SCS into 5 recipients. After four weeks no tumour growth had occurred. In conclusion we demonstrated that the presence of injected or grafted tumour had only a minor effect on systemic immune function but induced a strong local anergic effect. This local anergic effect was demonstrable as blocking of LAK activity and thus perhaps allowed suppression of the functional activities of incoming immunocompetent cells.