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Intratumoral interleukin-2 immunotherapy: Activation of tumor-infiltrating and splenic lymphocytes in vivo


Direct intratumoral injection of interleukin-2 (IL-2) was evaluated in a murine model. Balb/c mice received 5 × 104 Line 1 alveolar carcinoma cells (L1C2) by subcutaneous injection. On the third day following tumor implantation, mice received injections of IL-2 (5 × 103−5 × 104 units) or diluent twice daily, either by i. p. or intratumoral injection, 5 days/week for 3 weeks. Intratumoral injection of 5 × 104 units IL-2 significantly reduced tumor volume (P <0.05 versus control), increased median survival time (P = 0.0001), and resulted in a 23.5% cure rate (P = 0.008). There were no long-term survivors in the other treatment groups. Both tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) and splenic lymphocytes isolated directly from IL-2-treated mice demonstrated enhanced cytolytic activity compared to diluent-treated controls. To determine whether non-T-cell-mediated antitumor responses were active in our model, intratumoral immunotherapy was evaluated in athymic Balb/cnu/nu mice. In order to decrease the recruitment of lymphocyte precursors, nude mice were splenectomized and received cyclophosphamide prior to tumor injection and IL-2 therapy. Intratumoral IL-2 immunotherapy also significantly decreased tumor volume in these immunodeficient mice (P <0.02), but did not lead to long-term survival. We conclude that both TIL and splenic lymphocytes are activated in vivo in response to intratumoral IL-2 immunotherapy, suggesting that intratumoral therapy with IL-2 activates both local and systemic antitumor responses.

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Author information

Correspondence to Steven M. Dubinett.

Additional information

Supported by the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program of the University of California, the Cancer Research Coordinating Committee, the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation, and Veterans Administration Medical Research Funds

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Dubinett, S.M., Patrone, L., Tobias, J. et al. Intratumoral interleukin-2 immunotherapy: Activation of tumor-infiltrating and splenic lymphocytes in vivo. Cancer Immunol Immunother 36, 156–162 (1993).

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Key words

  • Interleukin-2
  • Immunotherapy
  • Tumorinfiltrating lymphocytes