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J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Jul;117(1):119-27.

Dysregulation of lymphocyte interleukin-12 receptor expression in Sézary syndrome.

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Department of Dermatology, The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Initial phase I and II clinical trials with recombinant human interleukin-12 have demonstrated the therapeutic efficacy of this cytokine in early stage cutaneous T cell lymphoma as compared with more advanced stages such as the leukemic Sézary syndrome. In an effort to optimize the use of recombinant human interleukin-12, using flow cytometry we studied the regulation of the interleukin-12 receptor beta1 (high affinity chain) and beta2 (chain necessary for interleukin-12 signal transduction) on normal volunteer CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and CD4+ and CD8+ cells from eight patients with different degrees of leukemic involvement with Sézary syndrome. The beta1 chain was not readily detectable on resting normal and T cells from Sézary patients, but expression was induced following T cell activation with phytohemagglutinin. Similarly, the beta2 chain was not detectable on resting normal volunteer T cells, but could be induced following phytohemagglutinin stimulation. Moreover, the beta2 chain on normal volunteer T cells was markedly upregulated following short-term culture with interferon-gamma or recombinant human interleukin-12. CD8+ T cells routinely exhibited a greater expression of beta2 than did CD4+ T cells. In marked contrast, both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from patients with Sézary syndrome and a high tumor cell burden (> 50% circulating atypical Sézary T cells) failed to express the beta2 chain under any culture conditions. Although, culture with anti-interleukin-10 also markedly increased beta2 expression on normal volunteer T cells, this failed to induce expression on either CD4+ or CD8+ T cells from Sézary patients and a high tumor burden. Investigation of patients with Sézary syndrome and a low tumor cell burden (< 15% circulating Sézary T cells) revealed a pattern of beta2 expression that was intermediate between advanced Sézary syndrome and normal volunteers. Both CD4+ and CD8+ peripheral blood T cells from these earlier stage patients were induced to express the beta2 chain, although at a lower frequency of positivity than T cells from normals, following culture with phytohemagglutinin, interferon-gamma, recombinant human interleukin-12, or anti-interleukin-10. These results indicate that short-term culture with interferon-gamma and recombinant human interleukin-12 potently upregulates beta2 chain expression on T cells from normal volunteers, whereas a similar, but less marked effect occurs on T cells from Sézary syndrome patients and a low circulating tumor cell burden. In contrast, the beta2 chain appears to be suppressed on both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from Sézary patients with a heavy circulating tumor cell burden and it is not induced by interferon-gamma or recombinant human interleukin-12. Therefore, recombinant human interleukin-12 is likely to be most effective for early stage cutaneous T cell lymphoma due to a greater display of beta2 receptors on responding CD8+ anti-tumor cytotoxic T cells.

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