The antitumor effects of therapeutic mAbs may depend on immune effector cells that express FcRs for IgG. IL-12 is a cytokine that stimulates IFN-γ production from NK cells and T cells. We hypothesized that coadministration of IL-12 with a murine anti-HER2/ neu mAb (4D5) would enhance the FcR-dependent immune mechanisms that contribute to its antitumor activity. Thrice-weekly therapy with IL-12 (1 μg) and 4D5 (1 mg/kg) significantly suppressed the growth of a murine colon adenocarcinoma that was engineered to express human HER2 (CT-26HER2/neu) in BALB/c mice compared with the result of therapy with IL-12, 4D5, or PBS alone. Combination therapy was associated with increased circulating levels of IFN-γ, monokine induced by IFN-γ, and RANTES. Experiments with IFN-γ-deficient mice demonstrated that this cytokine was necessary for the observed antitumor effects of therapy with IL-12 plus 4D5. Immune cell depletion experiments showed that NK cells (but not CD4+ or CD8+ T cells) mediated the antitumor effects of this treatment combination. Therapy of HER2/neu-positive tumors with trastuzumab plus IL-12 induced tumor necrosis but did not affect tumor proliferation, apoptosis, vascularity, or lymphocyte infiltration. In vitro experiments with CT-26HER2/neu tumor cells revealed that IFN-γ induced an intracellular signal but did not inhibit cellular proliferation or induce apoptosis. Taken together, these data suggest that tumor regression in response to trastuzumab plus IL-12 is mediated through NK cell IFN-γ production and provide a rationale for the coadministration of NK cell-activating cytokines with therapeutic mAbs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy