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J Immunol. 2007 Apr 1;178(7):4222-9.

Regulation of carcinogenesis by IL-5 and CCL11: a potential role for eosinophils in tumor immune surveillance.

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Division of Immunology and Genetics, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, Mills Road Acton, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.


The role of the immune system in the surveillance of transformed cells has seen a resurgence of interest in the last 10 years, with a substantial body of data in mice and humans supporting a role for the immune system in host protection from tumor development and in shaping tumor immunogenicity. A number of earlier studies have demonstrated that eosinophils, when recruited into tumors, can very effectively eradicate transplantable tumors. In this study, we investigated whether eosinophils also play a role in tumor immune surveillance by determining the incidence of methylcholanthrene (MCA)-induced fibrosarcomas in IL-5 transgenic mice that have greatly enhanced levels of circulating eosinophils, CCL11 (eotaxin-1)-deficient mice that lack a key chemokine that recruits eosinophils into tissues, and the eosinophil-deficient mouse strains, IL-5/CCL11(-/-) and DeltadblGATA. It was found that MCA-induced tumor incidence and growth were significantly attenuated in IL-5 transgenic mice of both the BALB/c and C57BL/6 backgrounds. Histological examination revealed that the protective effect of IL-5 was associated with massively enhanced numbers of eosinophils within and surrounding tumors. Conversely, there was a higher tumor incidence in CCL11(-/-) BALB/c mice, which was associated with a reduced eosinophil influx into tumors. This correlation was confirmed in the eosinophil-deficient IL-5/CCL11(-/-) and DeltadblGATA mouse strains, where tumor incidence was greatly increased in the total absence of eosinophils. In addition, subsequent in vitro studies found that eosinophils could directly kill MCA-induced fibrosarcoma cells. Collectively, our data support a potential role for the eosinophil as an effector cell in tumor immune surveillance.

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