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Int J Cancer. 2010 Sep 1;127(5):1141-50. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25140.

Transient depletion of CD4(+) T cells augments IL-21-based immunotherapy of disseminated neuroblastoma in syngeneic mice.

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  • 1Laboratory of Immunotherapy, Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro, Genoa, Italy.


IL-21 is a member of the IL-2 cytokine family, produced by CD4+ T cells. We previously showed that immunotherapy (IT) with IL-21-transduced neuroblastoma cells (Neuro2a/IL-21) cured 33% of syngeneic mice bearing systemic NB. Here, we studied whether the removal of Treg cells could potentiate the therapeutic efficacy of Neuro2a/IL-21 vaccine. The administration of anti-CD25 mAb, which targets Treg cells, slightly potentiated the effect of vaccine IT (50% cure rate), but anti-CD4 mAb had a more potent effect leading to 80% cure rate. Anti-CD25 mAb, indeed, only partially depleted CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ Treg cells, whereas anti-CD4 mAb was more effective in this respect, leading to 90% depletion of Treg cells. In mice receiving vaccine+anti-CD4 mAb, which developed systemic immunity to NB, CD4+ T cells counts completely recovered in 90 days. Depletion of CD8+ T cells abrogated the effect of the combined IT, indicating a predominant role of these cells in driving the immune response. In addition, CD8+ T cells from cured mice coinjected with Neuro2a/parental cells (pc) in NOD-SCID mice completely inhibited tumor growth. Spleen cells from mice receiving Neuro2a/IL-21 vaccination showed increased expression of IFN-alpha2, -beta1 and -gamma mRNA. Moreover, mice receiving vaccine therapy alone or vaccine+anti-CD4 mAb showed increased IFN-gamma serum levels and IFN-gamma-producing CD8+ T cells were found in spleen cells. In conclusion, anti-CD4 mAb potentiated IL-21-based IT by removing Treg cells and/or their precursors and other potentially immune-suppressive CD4+ cell subsets, thus allowing the development of an IL-21-driven CD8+ T cell response, which mediates NB rejection.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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