Enhancement of tumor necrosis factor alpha antitumor immunotherapeutic properties by targeted delivery to aminopeptidase N (CD13)

Nat Biotechnol. 2000 Nov;18(11):1185-90. doi: 10.1038/81183.


The clinical use of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF) as an anticancer drug is limited to local treatments because of its dose-limiting systemic toxicity. We show here that murine TNF fused with CNGRC peptide (NGR-TNF), an aminopeptidase N (CD13) ligand that targets activated blood vessels in tumors, is 12-15 times more efficient than murine TNF in decreasing the tumor burden in lymphoma and melanoma animal models, whereas its toxicity is similar. Similarly, human NGR-TNF induced stronger antitumor effects than human TNF, even with 30 times lower doses. Coadministration of murine NGR-TNF with a CNGRC peptide or an anti-CD13 antibody markedly decreased its antitumor effects. Tumor regression, induced by doses of murine NGR-TNF lower than the LD50, was accompanied by protective immunity. In contrast, no cure was induced by TNF at any dose. These results suggest that targeted delivery of TNF to CD13 may enhance its immunotherapeutic properties. Moreover, these findings reveal the potential of tumor homing peptides to generate a new class of recombinant cytokines that compared to immunocytokines have a simpler structure, could be easier to produce and are potentially less immunogenic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD13 Antigens / genetics
  • CD13 Antigens / metabolism*
  • CD13 Antigens / therapeutic use
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Separation
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Flow Cytometry
  • HL-60 Cells
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Lymphoma / drug therapy
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Melanoma, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Protein Binding
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / therapeutic use*
  • U937 Cells


  • Ligands
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • CD13 Antigens