Analysis of IL-2 receptor expression and of the biological effects of IL-2 gene transfection in small-cell lung cancer

R. Meazza, S. Marciano, S. Sforzini, A. M. Orengo, M. Coppolecchia, P. Musiani, A. Ardizzoni, L. Santi, B. Azzarone, S. Ferrini

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We have analysed the expression of interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2R) on a panel of small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines. None of the 11 SCLC cell lines studied expressed detectable surface IL-2R α or β chains by indirect immunofluorescence. Reverse transcriptase- polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analyses indicated that only one out of 11 cell lines expressed detectable IL-2R β mRNA while two expressed a weak positivity for IL-2R γ. Five SCLC cell lines were transfected with the plasmid vector RSV.5 neo containing IL-2 cDNA coding sequence. Stable transfectants secreted biologically active IL-2 (ranging from 25 to 100 U ml-1 in the culture supernatant). IL-2 transfection did not produce significant modifications in the expression of surface molecules such as IL-2R α and β chains, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), CD44, HLA class I and II or in IL-2R β or γ mRNA. More importantly, IL-2-transfected N592 and NCI H69 cell lines completely lost their tumorigenic potential in nude mice after subcutaneous injection, whereas experimental controls transfected with RSV.5 neo vector only, displayed an in vivo growth pattern identical to that of untransfected cells. In addition, in the N592 model, IL-2-producing N592 inhibited the growth of wild-type N592 injected at the same site, while injection of parental cells on the opposite side did not significantly affect the growth of wild-type tumour cells. Histopathological analysis of the rejection process of IL-2-transfected cells demonstrated the presence of MAC-1+, MAC-3+ macrophages and of RB68C5+ granulocytes, whereas T cells were undetectable and NK cells were scarcely represented. In addition, a reduction of the tumour blood vessels was observed. The possible relevance of these data for the development of vaccination strategies using cytokine-engineered tumour cells in SCLC is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)788-795
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Interleukin 2
  • Interleukin-2 receptor
  • Lung cancer
  • Transfection
  • Xenotransplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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