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Cancer Res. 1989 Jan 1;49(1):149-53.

Synergy of human recombinant interleukin 1 with interleukin 2 in the generation of lymphokine-activated killer cells.

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  • 1Department of Tumor Biology, University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030.


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells cultured in vitro with interleukin 2 (IL-2) become cytolytic towards both autologous and allogeneic tumor cells. We report here that IL-1 synergizes with IL-2 in serum-free conditions to produce increased (1.3-286-fold) lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) activity. The most dramatic synergy is seen with low IL-2 concentrations (10 U/ml, 222 pM) and 50-250 U/ml IL-1 alpha or beta. Kinetics of addition experiments demonstrate a specific requirement for IL-1 at or before addition of IL-2 to the culture. We postulate that one of the mechanisms whereby IL-1 augments LAK activity is by rendering LAK-precursors more responsive to IL-2. Up-regulation of the IL-2 receptor beta chain (Tac) and increased [3H]thymidine incorporation in cultures containing IL-1 and IL-2 support this view. In some instances, IL-1 alone is capable of maintaining/generating a small degree of cytolytic activity. Collectively, our data demonstrate that IL-1 is capable of interacting with low dose IL-2 to significantly augment LAK activity, potentially playing an important role in the early stages of LAK activation and differentiation. Because synergy is observed with dramatically reduced IL-2 concentrations, this system may offer an alternative approach to high dose IL-2 therapy for the treatment of neoplastic disease.

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