Tumor cells secreting IL-13 but not IL-13Rα2 fusion protein have reduced tumorigenicity in vivo

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IL-13 is a Th2 cytokine that plays crucial roles in the pathophysiology of allergy, asthma and helminth infection. The high affinity receptor for IL-13, IL-13Rα2, may act as a decoy receptor for IL-13. The anti-tumor effect of IL-13 and its soluble receptor IL-13Rα2 have been examined in different tumor systems. Previous studies have shown that IL-13 enhances anti-tumor responses in some model systems, whereas IL-13Rα2Fc prevents IL-13 mediated suppression of tumor immuno-surveillance in a different model system. In this study, we have used a cytokine (receptor) gene therapy approach and studied the immune responses mediated by IL-13 and IL-13Rα2Fc in poorly immunogenic B16F1 melanoma and immunogenic MethA fibrosarcoma tumor models. We find that IL-13 reduces the tumorigenicity of B16F1 melanoma and MethA fibrosarcoma cells in vivo, most likely through the recruitment of neutrophils and macrophages. IL-13 mediated anti-tumor responses do not lead to the generation of tumor-specific T cells. Neither IL-13Rα2Fc gene transduction nor in vivo treatment with soluble IL-13Rα2Fc has a statistically significant effect of tumor growth. IL-13Rα2 deficient host background does not alter tumor growth, suggesting that endogenous levels of IL-13 do not contribute to an anti-tumor response in these models. We conclude that IL-13, but not soluble IL-13Rα2, has anti-tumor activity in the models described here, possibly by enhancing innate anti-tumor immunity.

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