IL-7 is superior to IL-2 for ex vivo expansion of tumourspecific CD4 + T cells

Stefano Caserta, Patrizia Alessi, Veronica Basso, Anna Mondino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is well established that tumours hinder both natural and vaccine-induced tumourspecific CD4+ T-cell responses. Adoptive T-cell therapy has the potential to circumvent functional tolerance and enhance anti-tumour protective responses. While protocols suitable for the expansion of cytotoxic CD8+ T cells are currently available, data on tumour-specific CD4+ T cells remain scarce.We report here that CD4+ T cells sensitized to tumour-associated Ag in vivo, proliferate in vitro in response to IL-7 without the need for exogenous Ag stimulation and accumulate several folds while preserving a memory-like phenotype. Both cell proliferation and survival accounts for the outgrowth of tumoursensitized T cells among other memory and naive lymphocytes following exposure to IL-7. Also IL-2, previously used to expand anti-tumour CTL, promotes tumour-specific CD4+ T-cell accumulation. However, IL-7 is superior to IL-2 at preserving lymphocyte viability, in vitro and in vivo, maintaining those properties, that are required by helper CD4+ T cells to confer therapeutic efficacy upon transplantation in tumour-bearing hosts. Together our data support a unique role for IL-7 in retrieving memory-like CD4+ T cells suitable for adoptive T-cell therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-479
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • Adoptive T-cell therapy
  • Cytokines
  • T helper cells
  • Tumour immunology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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