, Volume 56, Issue 9, pp 1417-1428
Date: 07 Feb 2007

Interleukin 21 therapy increases the density of tumor infiltrating CD8+ T cells and inhibits the growth of syngeneic tumors

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Abstract

Interleukin (IL)-21 is a recently discovered cytokine in early clinical development, which has shown anti-tumor activity in various animal models. In the present study, we examine the anti-tumor activity of IL-21 protein therapy in two syngeneic tumor models and its effect on the density of tumor infiltrating T cells. We treated mice bearing established subcutaneous B16 melanomas or RenCa renal cell carcinomas with intraperitoneal (i.p.) or subcutaneous (s.c.) IL-21 protein therapy and subsequently scored the densities of tumor infiltrating CD4+ and CD8+ T cells by immunohistochemistry. Whereas both routes of IL-21 administration significantly inhibited growth of small, established RenCa and B16 tumors, only s.c. therapy significantly inhibited the growth of large, established tumors. We found a greater bioavailability and significant drainage of IL-21 to regional lymph nodes following s.c. administration, which could account for the apparent increase in anti-tumor activity. Specific depletion of CD8+ T cells with monoclonal antibodies completely abrogated the anti-tumor activity, whereas NK1.1+ cell depletion did not affect tumor growth. In accordance, both routes of IL-21 administration significantly increased the density of tumor infiltrating CD8+ T cells in both B16 and RenCa tumors; and in the RenCa model s.c. administration of IL-21 led to a significantly higher density of tumor infiltrating CD8+ T cells compared to i.p. administration. The densities of CD4+ T cells were unchanged following IL-21 treatments. Taken together, these data demonstrate that IL-21 protein has anti-tumor activity in established syngeneic tumors, and we show that IL-21 therapy markedly increases the density of tumor infiltrating CD8+ T cells.