The role of interleukin-2 in combination adenovirus gene therapy for head and neck cancer

Bert W. O'Malley, Duane A. Sewell, Daqing Li, Ken Ichiro Kosai, Shu Hsia Chen, Savio L C Woo, Ling Duan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Interleukin-2 (IL-2) gene therapy alone and in combination with the herpes thymidine kinase gene (tk) was used to evaluate immunological responses and antitumor effects in head and neck cancer. Established floor of mouth squamous cell carcinomas in C3H/HeJ mice were directly injected with recombinant adenoviral vectors carrying both therapeutic and control genes. One week after adenoviral gene transfer, only the animals treated with combination IL-2+tk or tk alone demonstrated significant tumor regression. Residual tumors were harvested for microscopic evaluation and immuno- histochemistry staining, which revealed a predominance of CD8+ lymphocytes in the tumor beds of the animals treated with IL-2. To evaluate the systemic immune effects of IL-2, animals treated with single or combination gene therapy received a second site challenge with parental tumor cells or a heterologous but syngeneic sarcoma cell line. Mice treated with combination IL-2 and tk demonstrated a protective systemic immunity specific to the parental tumor cell line, whereas no systemic immune response was evident in mice receiving IL-2 alone. In a separate experiment, a range of concentrations of the adenovirus IL-2 vector were used to treat established tumors. Even with the maximal single-dose adenovirus concentration, IL-2 alone was ineffective as a single therapy. These results support the use of adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of IL-2 as an effective immunotherapy when used adjuvantly with the tk 'suicide gene'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-673
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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