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J Immunol. 2003 Jul 15;171(2):600-7.

Antitumor and antimetastatic activity of IL-23.

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  • 1Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.


The structure and T cell stimulatory effects of the recently discovered cytokine IL-23 are similar to, but distinct from, those of IL-12. Although the antitumor activities of IL-12 are well characterized, the effect of IL-23 on tumor growth is not known. In this study, murine CT26 colon adenocarcinoma and B16F1 melanoma cells were engineered using retroviral vectors to release single-chain IL-23 (scIL-23) to evaluate its antitumor activity. In BALB/c mice, scIL-23-transduced CT26 cells grew progressively until day 26 to an average size of 521 +/- 333 mm(3), then the tumors started to regress in most animals, resulting in a final 70% rate of complete tumor rejection. scIL-23 transduction also significantly suppressed lung metastases of CT26 and B16F1 tumor cells. In addition, mice that rejected scIL-23-transduced tumors developed a memory response against subsequent wild-type tumor challenge. Compared with scIL-12-expressing CT26 cells, scIL-23-transduced tumors lacked the early response, but achieved comparable antitumor and antimetastatic activity. These results demonstrated that IL-23, like IL-12, provided effective protection against malignant diseases, but it probably acted by different antitumor mechanisms. As a first step in identifying these antitumor mechanisms, tumor challenge studies were performed in immunocompromised hosts and in animals selectively depleted of various lymphocyte populations. The results showed that CD8(+) T cells, but not CD4(+) T cells or NK cells, were crucial for the antitumor activity of IL-23.

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