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Int J Cancer. 1997 May 16;71(4):630-7.

Interleukin-10 is a growth factor for human melanoma cells and down-regulates HLA class-I, HLA class-II and ICAM-1 molecules.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Zurich Medical School, Switzerland.


IL-10 is a cytokine which shows various effects including inhibition of T-cell proliferation or HLA-dependent antigen presentation. In this study, we analysed the effects of exogenous or autocrine IL-10 on proliferation and expression of immunocritical surface molecules. Fourteen cultures of human melanoma cells were established from primary melanomas, locoregional lymph-node or distant metastases. In 5 melanoma cell cultures, proliferation in the presence of IL-10, anti-IL-10 antibodies (Ab) or control Ab was assessed with colorimetric and [3H]thymidine uptake assays. Flow cytometric analysis was used to quantify the expression of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class-I, HLA class-II and intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 and the IL-10 receptor (IL-10R). IL-10 production of melanoma cells was documented by RT-PCR and IL-10 protein was detected in the supernatants by means of ELISA. IL-10 enhanced proliferation and prolonged survival of melanoma cells in 5 out of 5 cultures. Anti-IL-10 Ab decreased proliferation. IL-10R expression was found in 12 out of 14 (86%) melanoma cell cultures. The expression of HLA-I, HLA-II and ICAM-1 on all melanoma cells that were positive for IL-10R showed a reduction of 10-60% by IL-10, whereas the surface levels of HLA-I, HLA-II and ICAM-1 in 5 out of 5 cell cultures revealed an increase of 10-170% by anti-IL-10 Ab. These findings suggest that IL-10 is an autocrine growth factor with significant impact on immunocritical molecules in melanoma. IL-10 effects have to be considered when planning therapeutic immunointerventions in melanoma patients.

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