Interleukin-21 expanded NKDCin vitroreduces the B16F10 tumor growthin vivo

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Innate immunity to tumors is mediated mainly by natural killer cells (NKs) and dendritic cells (DCs). The function of these cells is coordinated by cytokines produced during the inflammatory process. NK cells are highly active against tumors, being an important source of IFN-γ. Natural killer dendritic cells (NKDCs) were recently identified as a group of hybrid cells; some studies claim that they have lytic activity, produce IFN-γ and can also stimulate antigen-specific T cells. Interleukin 21 (IL-21) regulates the proliferation capacity and cytotoxicity of NK and T cells. The main objective of this study was to investigate if IL-21 influences the frequency of NKDCs in vitro as well as IFN-γ production and also to verify if these cells could enhance the antitumor activity against B16F10 tumor model in vivo. Splenocytes from C57BL/6 mice were isolated and the DC were enriched by immunomagnetic beads and cultured for four days with recombinant IL-21 (10, 20, 40 or 100 ng/ml). NKDC population was characterized as CD11clow/medB220+NK1.1+. Expanded cells were used to treat B16F10 tumor bearing mice and tumor growth was compared between the doses of IL-21 10 ng/ml and 20 ng/ml. The results indicate that IL-21 increases the expansion of splenic NKDCs in vitro in doses of 10 ng/ml and 20 ng/ml and these cells produce IFN-γ. In vivo, cells expanded with IL-21 and injected directly into the growing tumor efficiently reduced the tumor size. Together, these results showed for the first time that IL-21 influences the biology and the effector activity of NKDCs.

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