Expression of the interleukin-21 gene in murine colon carcinoma cells generates systemic immunity in the inoculated hosts

Cancer Gene Ther. 2003 Mar;10(3):187-92. doi: 10.1038/sj.cgt.7700552.


Interleukin-21 (IL-21) is a novel cytokine that can induce proliferation of activated T cells and maturation of natural killer (NK) cells. We therefore examined whether expression of the IL-21 gene in tumor cells could generate antitumor responses. Murine colon carcinoma Colon 26 cells that were transduced with the mouse IL-21 gene (Colon 26/IL-21) were rejected in syngeneic mice and the mice subsequently acquired protective immunity. The growth of Colon 26/IL-21 tumors developed in nude mice was retarded compared with that of parent tumors, and this growth suppression was not observed in nude mice that were treated with anti-asialo GM(1) antibody. Spleen cells from the mice that had rejected Colon 26/IL-21 cells showed cytotoxic activity to Colon 26 but not to irrelevant tumor cells, and produced larger amounts of interferon-gamma upon stimulation with irradiated Colon 26 cells. Spleen cells from Colon 26/IL-21-tumor- but not parent-tumor-bearing mice had lytic activity to YAC-1 cells. These data suggest that expression of IL-21 in tumors induces T- and NK-cell-dependent antitumor effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma / immunology*
  • Carcinoma / therapy*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colonic Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cytotoxicity Tests, Immunologic
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukins / genetics*
  • Interleukins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Retroviridae / genetics


  • Interleukins
  • Interferon-gamma
  • interleukin-21