BACKGROUNDProstate cancer (PC) is the second most common cancer in older men, after skin cancer. PC is difficult to diagnose because the prostate-specific antigen screening method is associated with many false positives. In addition there is a need to develop new and more effective treatments. Among presently available new treatments, immunotherapy is a promising approach. We investigated the expression of the cancer/testis antigen, AKAP-4, in PC patients to evaluate the possibility of exploiting AKAP-4 as a target for immunotherapy.METHODSWe analyzed normal prostate tissues, 15 patients with PC and the LnCAP PC cell line by immunohistochemistry. We tested AKAP-4 immunogenicity through indirect ELISA on sera from patients and healthy subjects, and we generated in vitro AKAP-4-specific cytotoxic lymphocytes from peripheral blood mononuclear cells.RESULTSAKAP-4 was shown both at the cytoplasmic and surface levels of the LnCAP PC cell line. AKAP-4 was also highly expressed in PC cells from patients. We detected specific anti-AKAP-4 circulating immunoglobulins in AKAP-4 positive subjects. Using recombinant AKAP-4 loaded autologous dendritic cells, we generated AKAP-4-specific and HLA-I-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocytes able to kill PC cells in vitro. Further characterization indicated a Th-1 skewing in the cytokine secretion profile of these cells.CONCLUSIONSWe demonstrate the aberrant expression of AKAP-4 in PC, which will potentially be developed as a biomarker in PC. We provide evidence that AKAP-4 is a potential target for PC adoptive immunotherapy or anti-tumor vaccination.