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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1992 Aug 5;84(15):1185-90.

Antiproliferative potencies of interferons on melanoma cell lines and xenografts: higher efficacy of interferon beta.

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Centre for Molecular Biology and Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.



Human melanomas have shown only limited responsiveness to clinical therapy with interferon (IFN).


Our aim was to determine the most effective class of IFN for inhibiting growth of melanoma cells and to establish whether variation exists in response of various cell lines to different IFNs.


We compared the direct antiproliferative effects of the type I IFN alpha-2b, IFN alpha-4a, and IFN-beta and the type II IFN-gamma on eight melanoma cell lines grown in vitro. We did this comparison by determining the concentration of each IFN that resulted in 50% growth inhibition, using the MTT [3-(4,5-dimethyl-2-thiazolyl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium tetrazolium bromide] dye uptake method. We also tested IFN alpha-2a and IFN-beta for their ability to inhibit the growth of xenografts of the LiBr melanoma cell line in vivo in nude mice. Receptor binding was determined using [35S]methionine-labeled IFN alpha-4a, in competition with unlabeled IFN alpha-2b, IFN alpha-4a, and IFN-beta.


The melanoma cell lines differed markedly in their sensitivity to the IFNs tested: Five were sensitive to low concentrations (less than 30 pM) of IFN-beta, only one was sensitive to similar concentrations of IFN alpha-2b, and none were sensitive to IFN alpha-4a at concentrations up to 920 pM. For all cell lines, the antiproliferative potency of the type I IFNs was IFN-beta greater than IFN alpha-2b greater than IFN alpha-4a. IFN-gamma was less active than IFN-beta on all except one of the cell lines. Similarly, IFN-beta was more potent than IFN alpha-2a in inhibiting the growth of the LiBr xenograft in nude mice. Labeled IFN alpha-4a bound with high specificity in all four melanoma lines tested, and competitive binding experiments showed that the order of binding affinity (IFN-beta greater than IFN alpha-2b greater than IFN alpha-4a) correlated with the order of antiproliferative potency.


The finding that melanoma cell lines differ intrinsically in their sensitivity to IFNs may explain differences in clinical response. Our results suggest that IFN-beta may be the most effective IFN in the treatment of melanoma, although confirmation will require clinical trials involving large numbers of patients.

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