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J Clin Lab Immunol. 1988 Aug;26(4):183-7.

Fractionated extract of Astragalus membranaceus, a Chinese medicinal herb, potentiates LAK cell cytotoxicity generated by a low dose of recombinant interleukin-2.

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Department of Clinical Immunology and Biological Therapy, University of Texas System Cancer Center, Houston 77030.


Success with rIL-2 immunotherapy of human cancer appears to depend on the administration of high doses which are frequently associated with excessive toxicity. Future use of rIL-2 will require certain modifications based on the use of lower doses of rIL-2 without significant loss of antitumor efficacy. We tested in vitro the possibility of potentiating the activity of rIL-2 in terms of LAK cell generation. We hypothesized that co-incubation of LAK cell precursors with a Chinese herbal extract (F3) of Astragalus membranaceus, (an immune modulator currently under study in our laboratory), along with a low concentration of rIL-2, would generate levels of LAK cell activity equivalent to those generated by high concentrations of rIL-2 alone. We found (1) a 10-fold potentiation of rIL-2 activity manifested by tumor cell-killing activity of 80% resulting from LAK cell generation with F3 plus 100 u/ml of rIL-2 versus 76% generated by 1,000 u/ml of rIL-2 alone; (2) a significant reduction in the number of effector LAK cells required for equicytotoxic reaction following LAK cell generation with F3 plus rIL-2 compared to rIL-2 alone. We conclude that potentiation of antitumor activity mediated by rIL-2 in low concentrations is possible by the concomitant use of another immune modulator such as Astragalus membranaceus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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