The current modalities for treating cancer employ not only single but multiple approaches involving surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the survival outcome is not promising even with these approaches. Alternative approaches for cancer therapy are now emerging. Immunotherapy is aiming at both increasing the power, and in redirecting the specificity of the patients' immune system to attack the tumor cells. Recently, many studies using tumor associated lymphocytes (TAL) isolated from malignant ascites cultured in a media containing interleukin-2 exhibit antitumor responses. IL-2 is a lymphokine produced by T-cells. It facilitates activation, sustained growth and rescue from apoptosis. Lately, newly developed IL-15 has also exhibited antitumor activity similar to IL-2. IL-15 is a newly described cytokine produced from monocytes-marcrophages and T-cells. It has a different molecular structure but it functions like IL-2 by binding to the IL-2R β and γc chain. These antitumor responses are mediated by the cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) that recognize the antigen in the context of the MHC molecules using the T cell receptors. CD8+-CTL recognize the peptide epitopes that are processed from the cellular proteins in the context of the MHC class I molecules. These peptides have a restricted length of 8-11 amino acids. The folate binding protein (FBP) is over-expressed in over 90% of ovarian and 20-50% in breast cancers. The FBP is the source of the antigenic peptides that are recognized by a number of these CTL-TAL, and is antigenic to both ovarian and breast cancer in vivo. To define the antitumor response of IL-15 and its' FBP immunogenicity, a peptide defining epitope E39 and E75 were presented by the PMBC derived dendritic cells (DC) from healthy donors isolated by the CD14 method to ovarian and breast CTL-TAL. Stimulating both ovarian and breast CTL-TAL by E39 or E75 pulsed DC (DC-E39, DC-E75), in the presence of IL-15 and IL-2 can rapidly enhance or induce the E39 or E75 specific CTL activity. The antitumor activities were measured by a chromium release assay for the tumor specific lysis activity using the ovarian and breast cancer cell lines. The tumor specific lysis activity for the ovarian TALs for IL-15 vs IL-2 were 28.6 ± 3.9% and 30.3 ± 3.2%, respectively and in the breast TALs, they were 14.8 ± 3.1 % vs 13.5 ± 2.9%, respectively. Using autologous tumor cells, a slightly higher tumor specific lysis activity was obtained for the ovarian TALs cultured in IL-15 compared to IL-2 (72.0 ± 8.2% vs 68.5 ± 3.6%). However, for the breast TALs, they were 39.5 ± 4.2% vs 41.5 ± 3.3%, respectively. IL-15 is a newly developed cytokine that shows promising antitumor activity similar to IL-2. However, it requires lower dosage and is less toxic. Therefore, IL-15 might be a potential anticancer immunotherapeutic agent.
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