Characterization and tumorigenicity of human neuroblastoma cells transfected with the IL-2 gene

M. V. Corrias, S. Basso, R. Meazza, P. Musiani, L. Santi, P. Bocca, M. Occhino, S. Ferrini, V. Pistoia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Immunization of cancer patients with cytokine-engineered tumor cells is being currently tested in several trials. To test the feasibility of this approach in neuroblastoma (NB) patients we investigated the functional consequences of interleukin-2 (IL-2) gene transfer into NB cell lines. Two human NB cell lines were transfected with the plasmid expression vector RSV.5neo containing the human IL-2 cDNA, and their tumorigenicity was evaluated in a nude mice xenograft model after characterization of the growth patterns and phenotypic features in vitro. The combination of IL-2 gene transfection and the xenograft model in nude nice was chosen on the basis of the low or absent expression of HLA class I antigen in human NB tumors. Our aim was to evaluate the effectiveness of an immunization protocol that could elicit a nonspecific antitumor response. The IL-2 stable transfectants were morphologically identical to parental or vector-transfected cells but completely lost tumorigenicity and inhibited, through a bystander effect, the growth of parental cells injected simultaneously at the same site. Histologic and immunohistochemical analysis of the nodules showed extensive necrosis with severe endothelial damage. The infiltrating cells were mainly macrophages, while natural killer (NK) cells were scarce. However, depletion of NK cells by anti-CD122 monoclonal antibody indicated that the rejection process required NK cell activity. The relevance of these data for the development of therapeutic approaches using cytokine-engineered NB cell lines is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-44
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Gene Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Gene transfer
  • IL-2
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Transfection
  • Tumor therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics


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