Alteration of tumour response to radiation by interleukin-2 gene transfer

Br J Cancer. 2000 Feb;82(4):937-44. doi: 10.1054/bjoc.1999.1022.


We have previously shown that BALB/c-derived EMT6 mammary tumours transfected with interleukin (IL)-2 have decreased hypoxia compared to parental tumours, due to increased vascularization. Since hypoxia is a critical factor in the response of tumours to radiation treatment, we compared the radiation response of IL-2-transfected tumours to that of parental EMT6 tumours. Because the IL-2 tumours have an altered host cell composition, which could affect the interpretation of radiation sensitivity as measured by clonogenic cells, we employed flow cytometric analysis to determine the proportion of tumour cells vs host cells in each tumour type. Using this approach, we were able to correct the plating efficiency based on the number of actual tumour cells derived from tumours, making the comparison of the two types of tumours possible. We also excluded the possibility that cytotoxic T-cells present in EMT6/IL-2 tumours could influence the outcome of the clonogenic cell survival assay, by demonstrating that the plating efficiency of cells derived from EMT6/IL-2 tumours remained unchanged after depletion of Thy-1+ cells. The in vivo radiation response results demonstrated that IL-2-transfected tumours were more sensitive to radiation than parental EMT6 tumours. The hypoxic fraction of the EMT6/IL-2 tumours growing in vivo was markedly decreased relative to parental EMT6 tumours thus the increased sensitivity results from the increased vascularity we have previously observed in these tumours. These results indicate the potential therapeutic benefit of combining radiation and immunotherapy in the treatment of tumours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Interleukin-2 / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Radiation Tolerance / genetics*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology


  • Interleukin-2