Direct and immune-mediated cytotoxicity of interleukin-21 contributes to antitumor effects in mantle cell lymphoma

Shruti Bhatt, Julie Matthews, Salma Parvin, Kristopher A. Sarosiek, Dekuang Zhao, Xiaoyu Jiang, Elif Isik, Anthony Letai, Izidore S. Lossos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a distinct subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma characterized by overexpression of cyclin D1 in 95% of patients. MCL patients experience frequent relapses resulting in median survival of 3 to 5 years, requiring more efficient therapeutic regimens. Interleukin (IL)-21, a member of the IL-2 cytokine family, possesses potent antitumor activity against a variety of cancers not expressing the IL-21 receptor (IL-21R) through immune activation. Previously, we established that IL-21 exerts direct cytotoxicity on IL-21R-expressing diffuse large B-cell lymphoma cells. Herein, we demonstrate that IL-21 possesses potent cytotoxicityagainst MCL cell lines and primary tumors. We identify that IL-21-induced direct cytotoxicity is mediated through signal transducer and activator of transcription 3-dependent cMyc upregulation, resulting in activation of Bax and inhibition of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL . IL-21-mediated cMyc upregulation is only observed in IL-21-sensitive cells. Further, we demonstrate that IL-21 leads to natural killer (NK)-cell-dependent lysis of MCL cell lines that were resistant to direct cytotoxicity. In vivo treatment with IL-21 results in complete FC-muMCL1 tumor regression in syngeneic mice via NK- and T-cell-dependent mechanisms. Together, these data indicate that IL-21 has potent antitumor activity against MCL cells via direct cytotoxic and indirect, immune-mediated effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1555-1564
Number of pages10
Issue number13
StatePublished - Sep 24 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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