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J Clin Invest. Sep 1992; 90(3): 1054–1060.
PMCID: PMC329964

Interleukin-7 is a growth factor for Sézary lymphoma cells.


Sézary syndrome is a cutaneous T cell lymphoma characterized by infiltration of the skin by CD4+ cells. These cells generally respond poorly to mitogens and T cell activators. We have studied the action of IL1 to IL4, IL6, and IL7 on the proliferation of Sézary cells from 12 patients. With the exception of IL2 and IL7, the cytokines studied had no proliferative effect on these cells. Whereas IL2 had only a low proliferative capacity (two- to threefold increase) on peripheral blood mononuclear cells, recombinant IL7 constantly induced a very significant (3-40-fold increase) proliferative response, and was used successfully to generate cell lines in three out of eight cases. Growth of Sézary cell lines was shown to be strictly dependent on IL7, and after 2-5 wk of culture presented a switch to a homogeneous phenotype CD3+4+8-7- (except for one line that remained CD7+), with a typical morphology of Sézary cells. Their tumoral origin was demonstrated by the expression of the same T cell receptor-beta gene rearrangement as the patients' T cells. Importantly, cultured normal epidermal keratinocyte supernatants could support the growth of our Sézary lines. Furthermore, the proliferative activity contained in these supernatants was completely blocked by a monoclonal anti-IL7 antibody. These results suggest that IL7 may, therefore, represent an important cytokine in the physiopathology of cutaneous T cell lymphoma.

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