Interleukin-13 sensitivity and receptor phenotypes of human glial cell lines: non-neoplastic glia and low-grade astrocytoma differ from malignant glioma

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2000 Aug;49(6):319-24. doi: 10.1007/s002620000110.


Many of the actions and receptor components of interleukin-13 (IL-13), a pleiotrophic cytokine with immunotherapeutic potential, are shared with IL-4. Because human low-grade astrocytoma cells express IL-4 receptors and their growth is arrested by IL-4, we speculated that IL-13 sensitivity and receptor expression might also be present. The purpose of the current study was to investigate IL-13 receptor components and sensitivity in a series of glial cell lines derived from adult human non-neoplastic cerebral cortex, low-grade astrocytoma, anaplastic astrocytoma, and glioblastoma multiforme. Unlike peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL), glial cells did not express IL-2 receptor gamma chain. IL-13 receptor alpha-1 (IL-13Ralpha1), however, was present in 11/13 glial lines and PBL. Deficient cell lines were all glioblastoma-derived. All anaplastic astrocytoma and glioblastoma but not other glial lines or PBL expressed IL-13 receptor alpha-2 (IL-13Ralpha2). In non-neoplastic glia, low-grade, and anaplastic astrocytoma, IL-13 decreased DNA synthesis, an effect reversible with antibody to IL-4Ralpha. Results indicate that low-grade astrocytoma cells resemble non-neoplastic glia in terms of IL-13 sensitivity and IL-4Ralpha/IL-13Ralpha1 receptor profile but alterations occur with malignant progression. Glioblastoma cells were uniformly insensitive to IL-13 and, unlike other glia, failed to phosphorylate STAT6 after IL-13 challenge. Data suggest that IL-13 and analysis of IL-13 receptors may have clinical application in glial tumors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Astrocytoma / chemistry*
  • Glioma / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-13 / pharmacology*
  • Interleukin-13 Receptor alpha1 Subunit
  • Neuroglia / chemistry*
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Interleukin / analysis*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-13
  • Receptors, Interleukin-4 / analysis
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor
  • Signal Transduction
  • Trans-Activators / physiology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • IL13RA1 protein, human
  • Interleukin-13
  • Interleukin-13 Receptor alpha1 Subunit
  • Receptors, Interleukin
  • Receptors, Interleukin-13
  • Receptors, Interleukin-4
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor
  • STAT6 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators