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Cancer Res. 1991 Apr 15;51(8):2002-8.

Modulation of human melanoma cells by interleukin-4 and in combination with gamma-interferon or alpha-tumor necrosis factor.

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  • 1Division of Surgical Oncology, John Wayne Cancer Clinic, University of California, Los Angeles 90024.


Immune cytokines have been shown to play important roles in regulating immune cell functions. Interleukin-4 (IL4), originally described as a B-cell growth factor, is known to activate and differentiate other immune cells. IL4 has been given as an immunotherapeutic to tumor-bearing hosts. In this report, we set out to determine whether IL4 can directly modulate growth and expression of surface antigens on human melanoma cells. The effect of recombinant IL4 alone and in combination with recombinant gamma-interferon (IFN) or recombinant alpha-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) on melanoma cell lines was examined. IL4 significantly inhibited cell growth of all cell lines examined at 100-500 units/ml; but a dose-dependent differential response to individual cell lines occurred. The effect of IL4 was augmented by combination with IFN or TNF. Melanoma-associated ganglioside antigens (GM3, GD3, GM2, GD2) and human leukocyte antigen class I and DR on the cell surface of melanoma cells were assessed by flow cytometry and/or a radiometric binding assay. IL4, IFN, or TNF alone enhanced human leukocyte antigen class I, DR, and beta 2-microglobulin antigen expression. IL4 alone and in combination with IFN or TNF increased the GM3/GD3 ratio expression. GD2 was enhanced significantly by IL4, IFN, and TNF. Pretreatment of melanoma with IL4 or with other cytokines prior to stimulation with peripheral blood lymphocytes significantly enhanced mixed lymphocyte tumor reaction activity as compared with non-treated melanoma used as stimulators. These studies demonstrate that IL4 alone or in combination with IFN and TNF can modulate melanoma growth activity and surface antigen expression to a more differentiated and immunogenic phenotype.

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