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J Immunol Methods. 2000 Mar 6;236(1-2):37-51.

Survival-promoting activity of IL-7 on IL-2-dependent cytotoxic T lymphocyte clones: resultant induction of G1 arrest.

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Department of Bioregulation, Mie University School of Medicine, 2-174 Edobashi, Tsu, Mie, Japan.


Interleukin-7 (IL-7) is essential for both T cell and B cell development. Recent studies have suggested that IL-7 also functions as a survival-promoting factor for resting and activated T cells. In this study we examined the effects of IL-7 on survival and cytotoxicity of tumor-specific CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clones established and maintained either with IL-2 alone or with a combination of IL-2 and IL-7. While the CTL clones cultured in IL-2 alone died around day 10, the CTL clones cultured in the presence of IL-2 and IL-7 survived for more than 4 weeks after seeding. The long-term survival of the latter was correlated with the presence of IL-7 in the medium. In addition, IL-7 alone prolonged survival of other IL-2-dependent CTL clones after the removal of IL-2. IL-7 maintained the CTLs in G1 arrest after a slight proliferation during the initial phase during which low-level but sustained DNA synthesis was observed. However, there was no direct correlation between DNA synthesis and enhancement of long-term survival by IL-7 as demonstrated by the inhibiting proliferation of the CTL clones with the protein kinase inhibitor genistein. During long-term survival in the presence of IL-7, the cytotoxic activities of the CTL clones decreased gradually to background levels although they were restored soon after the next passage. These results suggested that IL-7 had the ability to set machinery in motion against apoptosis in the IL-2-dependent CTL clones. Such an effect of IL-7 might play a role in vivo in the process leading activated T cells to the resting, that is, memory state.

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