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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1981 Feb;78(2):1171-5.

Influence of anti-mouse interferon serum on the growth and metastasis of tumor cells persistently infected with virus and of human prostatic tumors in athymic nude mice.


Baby hamster kidney or HeLa cells form tumors in 100% of athymic nude mice. When such cells are persistently infected (PI) with RNA viruses, such as mumps or measles virus, the tumor cells either fail to grow or form circumscribed benign nodules. Neither the parental nor the virus PI tumor cells form invasive or metastatic lesions in nude mice. Previous studies have indicated a correlation between the susceptibility of virus-PI tumor cells in vitro and the cytolytic activity of natural killer (NK) cells and their failure to grow in vivo. Because interferon (IF) is the principal regulatory molecule governing the differentiation of NK cells, it was possible to test the relevance of the IF-NK cell system in vivo to restriction of tumor growth by treatment of nude mice with anti-IF globulin. This treatment was shown to reduce both IF production and NK activity in spleen cells. Both parental and virus-PI tumor cells grew and formed larger tumors in nude mice treated with anti-IF globulin than in control nude mice. The viral-PI tumor cells and the uninfected parental cells formed tumors in treated mice that were highly invasive and often metastatic. Some human tumor types have been notoriously difficult to establish as tumor lines in nude mice (e.g., primary human prostatic carcinomas). When transplanted into nude mice treated either with anti-IF globulin or anti-lymphocyte serum, two prostatic carcinomas grew and produced neoplasms with local invasiveness and some metastases. The results are consistent with the view that interferon may be important in restricting the growth, invasiveness, and metastases of tumor cells by acting indirectly through components of the immune system, such as NK cells.

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