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Clin Exp Immunol. 2007 Jul;149(1):178-85. Epub 2007 May 21.

Dose-dependent synergy of Th1-stimulating cytokines on bacille Calmette-Guérin-induced interferon-gamma production by human mononuclear cells.

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  • 1Department of Urology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.


Successful bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunotherapy of bladder cancer depends on the proper induction of a T helper-type 1 (Th1) immune response. In this study we investigated the possible involvement of Th1-stimulating cytokines in BCG-induced interferon (IFN)-gamma production as well as their potential roles in enhancing BCG-induced IFN-gamma from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). BCG efficiently induced IFN-gamma production by PBMCs in a dose-dependent manner. Neutralization of endogenous cytokines interleukin (IL)-2, IL-12 and IFN-alpha reduced BCG-induced IFN-gamma by 38%, 67% and 49%, respectively. Although single recombinant (r) IL-2, rIL-12 and rIFN-alpha induced no or a marginal amount of IFN-gamma, a combination of any two or three cytokines increased IFN-gamma production. When BCG (a subsaturated dose) was combined with mono, dual or triple cytokines, a synergy on IFN-gamma production was observed. Such a synergy was readily achievable even when minimal or low doses of cytokines were used. No saturation of IFN-gamma production was observed even when a subsaturated BCG dose was combined with very high doses of cytokines. A robust IFN-gamma production was also observed when a minimal BCG dose was combined with minimal doses of triple cytokines. In addition, we demonstrated that IL-2- and IFN-alpha-expressing rBCGs were superior to wild-type BCG for PBMC IFN-gamma induction and that combination of both rBCGs showed a synergy in IFN-gamma production. Taken together, these results suggest that combination of BCG with certain exogenous or endogenous (expressed by rBCGs) Th1-stimulating cytokines is a rational candidate for further study in bladder cancer treatment.

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