, Volume 60, Issue 9, pp 1281-1288
Date: 21 May 2011

Enhanced anti-tumor activity of interferon-alpha in SOCS1-deficient mice is mediated by CD4+ and CD8+ T cells

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Interferon-alpha (IFN-α) is an immunomodulatory cytokine that is used clinically for the treatment of melanoma in the adjuvant setting. The cellular actions of IFN-α are regulated by the suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) family of proteins. We hypothesized that the anti-tumor activity of exogenous IFN-α would be enhanced in SOCS1-deficient mice. SOCS1-deficient (SOCS1−/−) or control (SOCS1+/+) mice on an IFN-γ−/− C57BL/6 background bearing intraperitoneal (i.p.) JB/MS murine melanoma cells were treated for 30 days with i.p. injections of IFN-A/D or PBS (vehicle). Log-rank Kaplan-Meier survival curves were used to evaluate survival. Tumor-bearing control SOCS1+/+ mice receiving IFN-A/D had significantly enhanced survival versus PBS–treated mice (P = 0.0048). The anti-tumor effects of IFN-A/D therapy were significantly enhanced in tumor-bearing SOCS1−/− mice; 75% of these mice survived tumor challenge, whereas PBS-treated SOCS1−/− mice all died at 13-16 days (P = 0.00038). Antibody (Ab) depletion of CD8+ T cells abrogated the anti-tumor effects of IFN-A/D in SOCS1−/− mice as compared with mice receiving a control antibody (P = 0.0021). CD4+ T-cell depletion from SOCS1−/− mice also inhibited the effects of IFN-A/D (P = 0.0003). IFN-A/D did not alter expression of CD80 or CD86 on splenocytes of SOCS1+/+ or SOCS1−/− mice, or the proportion of T regulatory cells or myeloid-derived suppressor cells in SOCS1+/+ or SOCS1−/− mice. An analysis of T-cell function did reveal increased proliferation of SOCS1-deficient splenocytes at baseline and in response to mitogenic stimuli. These data suggest that modulation of SOCS1 function in T-cell subsets could enhance the anti-tumor effects of IFN-α in the setting of melanoma.

K. D. Guenterberg and G. B. Lesinski have contributed equally to this manuscript.