Cytotoxins directed to interleukin-4 receptors have shown to mediate relatively selective cytotoxicity against a variety of human cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. In an ongoing Phase I clinical trial, a recombinant protein comprised of circularly permuted IL-4 fused to a mutated form of Pseudomonas exotoxin (the fusion protein termed IL-4(38-37)-PE38KDEL or cpIL4-PE) has shown antitumour activity against malignant glioma. Human medulloblastomas are neuroectodermal tumours that occur in children and have a poor prognosis. The goal of this study was to determine whether human medulloblastoma derived cell lines express interleukin-4 receptor and whether interleukin-4 receptor expression is accompanied by sensitivity to cpIL4-PE. Medulloblastoma cell lines express interleukin-4 receptor at the protein and mRNA levels as determined by binding, indirect immunofluorescence and RT--PCR studies. These cells expressed IL-4Ralpha (also known as IL-4Rbeta) and IL-13Ralpha1 (also known as IL-13Ralpha') chains, however common gamma(c), a component of the interleukin-4 receptor system in immune cells was not detected. Consistent with the expression of IL-4R, cpIL4-PE was found to be highly and specifically cytotoxic to four of five medulloblastoma cell lines. Susceptibility of medulloblastoma cell lines to cpIL4-PE seemed to correlate closely to the functional IL-4 binding sites in general as demonstrated by 125I-IL-4 binding, but did not seem to correlate with mRNA or cell surface immunoreactive receptor protein expression. The sensitivity of medulloblastoma cells to cpIL4-PE could be eliminated by concurrent incubation with IL-4 or IL-13, but not with IL-2. None of these cell lines showed any change in proliferation upon treatment with exogenous IL-4. These studies establish the interleukin-4 receptor as a medulloblastoma-associated target for possible tumour-directed cancer therapy. Further studies are warranted to investigate interleukin-4 receptor expression in primary medulloblastoma tumours and sensitivity to cpIL-4PE in vitro and in vivo.
Copyright 2002 The Cancer Research Campaign