Study objective: Our previous report demonstrated that there was impairment of local cellular immunity with elevated interleukin-10 (IL-10) and undetectable IL-12 in neoplastic pleural effusion. These findings suggest that the local immune reactions favor the T-helper type 2 (Th2) pathway instead of Th1 pathway. The present study was designed to examine whether local cellular immunity could be manipulated by IL-2 and/or IL-12 treatment, and to determine their effect on the helper T-cell pathways and the cytolytic activity of the effusion-associated lymphocytes (EALs).
Design: Using malignant pleural effusions obtained from four patients suffering from adenocarcinoma of lung, we separated the tumor cells from the EALs with Ficol-Hypaque centrifugation, followed by Percoll density centrifugation. To test whether the cytolytic function of lymphocytes could be enhanced by culturing with IL-2 and/or IL-12, lymphocytes were incubated with recombinant IL-2 with/without IL-12 for 6 days. Following this, the tumoricidal activity was assessed in an overnight 51chromium-release assay. Autologous tumor cells for measuring specific antitumor activity, Daudi cells susceptible to lymphokine-activated killer cells, and NK-susceptible K562 cells were used as target cells.
Measurements and results: After treatment in vitro with IL-2, IL-12, or IL-2 plus IL-12, the Th pathway shifted from Th2 to Th1 type (increased γ-interferon production). To further study the effect of cytokine treatment on the cytolytic activity of EALs, it was found that after 6-day culturing, the EALs failed to kill any of the three tumor targets, whereas the 6-day cultured peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) gave low level of cytotoxicity against all three tumor targets. Stimulation with IL-2 alone partially restored the immunocompetence of EALs to kill the tumor targets. Stimulation with IL-12 alone showed no significant effect on their cytolytic activity. However, IL-12 synergized with IL-2 to increase the cytolytic activity of EALs and PBLs against autologous tumor targets. This synergistic effect was not found for Daudi cells and K562 cells.
Conclusions: These results suggest that EALs activated with IL-12 in the presence of a low concentration of IL-2, which converted the EALs from Th2 pathway to Th1 pathway, could be an alternative source of antitumor effectors for adoptive immunotherapy of cancer.