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Cancer Res. 2003 Sep 15;63(18):6042-50.

CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory lymphocytes require interleukin 10 to interrupt colon carcinogenesis in mice.

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Division of Comparative Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Roles for host immune response in carcinogenesis are not well defined. Recent studies have shown that microbially driven inflammation can lead to colon cancer and that prior transfer of regulatory lymphocytes expressing CD4 and CD25 prevents the innate inflammatory events that lead to colon cancer in mice. To further examine the ability of regulatory lymphocytes to inhibit carcinogenesis, 129/SvEv Rag-2-deficient mice were inoculated by gastric gavage with Helicobacter hepaticus, an enteric bacterial pathogen of mice. Mice were then treated at 1, 3, or 12 months after infection with adoptive transfer of CD4(+)CD45RB(lo)CD25(+)-regulatory cells. Mice dosed with regulatory cells at 4 or 12 weeks after H. hepaticus infection had reduced severity of inflammatory bowel disease and significantly lower risk of colon cancer during the 8 month observation period, compared with infected mice that had not received cells. This suggested that regulatory cells were able to interrupt the ongoing innate immune events in the stepwise progression to cancer. Transfer of regulatory cells into chronically infected mice with established cancer reduced severity of colitis, epithelial dysplasia, and cancer, but did not eliminate all tumors. Regulatory cells lacking anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10 were unable to inhibit inflammatory bowel disease, dysplasia, or cancer, showing that IL-10 was required for the protective effects of lymphocytes in this setting. Taken together, the data suggest that IL-10-mediated suppression of host innate inflammatory response was pivotal in interrupting carcinogenesis. Regulatory lymphocytes and cytokines may have implications for novel therapies for colon cancer in humans.

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