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Am J Pathol. 2002 Feb;160(2):585-96.

Expression of functional interleukin-3 receptors on Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells.

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Clinical & Experimental Hematology Research Unit, Centro di Riferimento Oncologico, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico (IRCCS), Istituto Nazionale Tumori, via Pedemontana Occidentale 12, Aviano I-33081, Italy.


The human interleukin-3 receptor (IL-3R) is a heterodimeric complex consisting of an IL-3-specific alpha chain (IL-3Ralpha) and a common beta chain (beta(c)), this latter shared with the receptors for granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and IL-5. Despite extensive research on cytokine circuitries regulating proliferation and survival of tumor cells in Hodgkin's disease (HD) the functional expression of IL-3Rs in this pathobiological entity has not yet been investigated. In the present study, we demonstrate that the great majority (>90%) of malignant Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells of classic HD (19 of 19 analyzed cases) express IL-3Ralpha by immunostaining of frozen sections and cell suspensions from involved lymph nodes. Accordingly, HD cell lines (L428, KMH2, HDLM2, L1236) expressed the alpha and beta chains of IL-3R both at the mRNA and protein level, with a molecular size of IL-3Ralpha identical (70 kd) to that expressed by human myeloid cells. Exogenous IL-3 promoted the growth of cultured Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells, such effect being potentiated by IL-9 co-stimulation, and was able to partially rescue tumor cells from apoptosis induced by serum deprivation. This data suggests an involvement of IL-3/IL-3R interactions in the cellular growth of HD through paracrine mechanisms.

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