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Int J Cancer. 2003 Jan 1;103(1):45-52.

Tumor regression mechanisms by IL-13 receptor-targeted cancer therapy involve apoptotic pathways.

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Laboratory of Molecular Tumor Biology, Division of Cellular and Gene Therapies, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


IL-13 cytotoxin, composed of IL-13 and a truncated form of Pseudomonas exotoxin, targets IL-13R-overexpressing tumor cell lines in vitro and in vivo. To reveal the molecular mechanism of IL-13 cytotoxin-induced cell death in vivo, we demonstrate activation of apoptotic pathways in 2 s.c. growing human SCCHN tumor models in immunodeficient mice after i.t. administration of IL-13 cytotoxin. Treatment of HN12 tumor bearing mice with i.p. or i.t. administration of IL-13 cytotoxin mediated marked regression of established tumors with complete remission. Interestingly, after a single i.t. administration, IL-13 cytotoxin disappeared within 6 hr but accumulation of caspase-3, -8 and -9 and cleavage of procaspase-3 and PARP continued within the tumors for a prolonged period. We further demonstrate that IL-13 cytotoxin also utilizes an alternate pathway of cell death via the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria to the cytosol. Our results indicate that IL-13 cytotoxin induces 2 major pathways of apoptosis, which may play a role in tumor regression. In addition, apoptotic molecules may serve as surrogate molecular markers of tumor response to IL-13R-directed cytotoxin therapy.

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