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Blood. 1995 May 15;85(10):2779-85.

Human lymphotoxin has at least equal antitumor activity in comparison to human tumor necrosis factor but is less toxic in mice.

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Max-Delbrück-Center of Molecular Medicine, Berlin, Germany.


Because of the severe toxicity of systemically applied tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in cancer patients, considerable efforts have been made to construct mutant TNF molecules, which retain antitumor activity, but display less toxicity. We compared tumor suppression in relation to the toxic effects of human TNF and human lymphotoxin (LT) in mice. The genes for these two cytokines were expressed in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. Intraperitoneal injection of parental and gene modified CHO cell lines producing similar amounts of biologically active TNF or LT, respectively, into nude mice showed that CHO-TNF cells killed the mice more rapidly than parental cells, but that CHO-LT tumor bearing mice lived significantly longer than mice injected with parental cells. Injection of the cells subcutaneously into severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice allowed direct comparison of tumor suppression and toxic effects of the two cytokines. Both TNF and LT produced by the tumor effectively suppressed tumor growth by an indirect mechanism, LT being at least as effective as TNF. However, mice bearing CHO-TNF cells either died rapidly or developed cachexia, as shown by weight loss. In contrast, mice injected with CHO-LT cells never rapidly died and became cachectic much later than CHO-TNF cell injected animals, though serum levels of LT were higher than those of TNF. Analysis of soluble forms of TNF receptors (TNF-R1 and TNF-R2) in sera of tumor bearing mice showed that soluble TNF-R1 was downregulated in both CHO-TNF and CHO-LT, in comparison with CHO-neo cell injected mice and to normal SCID mice. The soluble form of TNF-R2 was induced by CHO cell lines. In CHO-TNF cell injected SCID mice, serum levels were significantly increased, whereas in mice injected with CHO-LT cells, serum levels of soluble TNF-R2 were decreased. Together, our results show a higher therapeutic index of LT compared with TNF.

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