Involvement of nitric oxide in anti-tumor effects of OK-432, a streptococcal anti-tumor immunotherapeutic agent

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We examined the role of nitric oxide (NO) induced by OK-432, a streptococcal immunotherapeutic agent, in anti-tumor effects of the OK-432 by in vitro and in vivo experiments using an NO synthase inhibitor, N-monomethyl-l-arginine acetate (NMA). The in vitro treatment of mouse splenocytes with OK-432 increased the expression of inducible NO synthase (iNOS) gene and NO production in a dose-dependent manner. Although it is well known that OK-432 induces cytokines such as interferon (IFN)-γ and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α;, both of which are known to be potent NO inducers, we observed only a partial reduction of OK-432-induced NO production with the addition of anti-IFN-γ and/or anti-TNF-α; neutralizing antibodies. The cytotoxicity of the splenocytes increased by in vitro OK-432 stimulation was almost completely inhibited by the treatment with NMA. OK-432 administration resulted in a marked prolongation of survival and a significant inhibition of tumor growth in syngeneic tumor-bearing mice, whereas NMA significantly inhibited the anti-tumor effects of OK-432. Although the increased cytotoxicity of adherent splenocytes derived from OK-432-treated tumor-bearing mice was almost completely inhibited by NMA, only partial inhibition by NMA was observed in the cytotoxicity of the nonadherent splenocytes. These findings strongly suggest that the iNOS/NO induced by OK-432 is intimately involved in the anti-tumor effects of OK-432.

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