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J Immunol. 2000 Dec 15;165(12):7150-6.

Inhibition of TNF-alpha produced by Kupffer cells protects against the nonspecific liver toxicity of immunotoxin anti-Tac(Fv)-PE38, LMB-2.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Division of Basic Sciences, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


LMB-2 (anti-Tac(Fv)-PE38) is a recombinant immunotoxin composed of the Fv fragment of the anti-Tac Ab fused to a 38-kDa form of Pseudomonas: exotoxin A. Recent clinical trials showed that LMB-2 is a promising agent for the treatment of patients with Tac-positive leukemia or lymphoma. One major side effect that needs to be overcome is nonspecific liver toxicity. In the current study, we have analyzed the mechanism of this toxicity using a mouse model. Mice that were injected with a lethal dose of LMB-2 showed severe hepatic necrosis. Immunohistochemistry revealed that LMB-2 accumulated in Kupffer cells in the liver, suggesting that the damage to the hepatocytes was indirect. When we examined the effects of LMB-2 on peritoneal macrophages, cells in the same lineage as Kupffer cells, we found that LMB-2 induced the production of TNF-alpha by these cells. Following LMB-2 administration to mice, the levels of TNF-alpha in the liver increased to very high levels, whereas the rise in serum levels was modest. In addition, the LMB-2-induced liver toxicity was blocked by a specific TNF binding protein (TNFsRp55). Liver toxicity was also blocked by indomethacin, which also blocked the rise of TNF-alpha in the liver. Both TNFsRp55 and indomethacin treatment protected mice against a lethal dose of LMB-2. These data indicate that TNF-alpha produced in the liver by Kupffer cells has an important causal role in the nonspecific liver toxicity of LMB-2. These findings have important clinical implications for the use of immunotoxins in the therapy of patients with cancer.

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