Depletion of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells enhances interleukin-2-induced antitumor immunity in a mouse model of colon adenocarcinoma

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Interleukin 2 (IL)-2 induces antitumor immunity and clinical responses in melanoma and renal cell carcinoma. However, IL-2 also increases the number of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T (Treg) cells that suppress antitumor immune responses. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the effect of depletion of Treg cells on IL-2-induced antitumor immunity. IL-2-transfected mouse colon adenocarcinoma (MC38/IL-2) cells were implanted subcutaneously or intrahepatically into male C57BL/6 mice, and tumor growth and the proportion of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes with Treg-cell depletion in response to treatment with anti-CD25 monoclonal antibody (PC61) were determined. In mice treated with phosphate-buffered saline, 40–60% of MC38/IL-2 tumors were rejected. In contrast, all MC38/IL-2 tumors were rejected in mice treated with PC61. The number of tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells in mice treated with PC61 was approximately twice that in mice treated with PBS. The numbers of tumor-infiltrating CD4+ and natural killer cells were also increased significantly. To test the antimetastatic effects of IL-2 treatment in combination with Treg-cell depletion, human recombinant IL-2 (rIL-2) and PC61 were administered to mice implanted with MC38/mock cells in the spleen, and hepatic metastasis was investigated. The average liver weight in mice treated with rIL-2 plus PC61 was 1.04 ± 0.03 g, less than that in mice treated with rIL-2 (2.04 ± 0.51 g) or PC61 alone (1.81 ± 0.38 g). We conclude that IL-2-induced antitumor immunity is enhanced by Treg-cell depletion and is due to expansion of the tumor-infiltrating cytotoxic CD8+ T-cell population.

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