Induction of urinary interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-2, IL-6, and tumour necrosis factor during intravesical immunotherapy with bacillus Calmette-Guérin in superficial bladder cancer

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 1992;34(5):306-12. doi: 10.1007/BF01741551.


To study the local immunological effects of intravesical bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) therapy in superficial bladder cancer patients, the production of interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-2, IL-6, tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha), and interferon gamma (IFN gamma) was investigated in the urine. Urine specimens were collected during the six weekly BCG instillations, before instillation, and 2, 4, 6, 8, and 24 h thereafter. Results were standardized to urine creatinine. In general, the concentration of IL-1 increased markedly during the first three BCG instillations, reaching a plateau from instillations 3 to 6. IL-2 was not detected after the first BCG instillation, but from the second instillation onwards the mean IL-2 concentration increased rapidly. With respect to IL-6, patients had relatively high levels in the urine after the first BCG instillation. A relatively moderate increase of the IL-6 concentration was observed during the following weeks. Like IL-2, TNF alpha was only detected after repeated BCG instillations. Generally the highest TNF levels were found after BCG instillation 5. The presence of IFN gamma could not be demonstrated. With respect to the occurrence of the cytokines during the first 24 h after the BCG instillation, TNF, IL-2, and IL-6 were detectable 2 h after the instillation. In contrast, IL-1 seemed to appear later, i.e. from 4 h onwards. TNF decreased most rapidly; it was nearly absent in 6-h samples. Generally IL-2 was not detectable in the 8-h samples, whereas IL-1 and IL-6 were present up to 8 h after instillation of BCG. The presence of TNF was found less frequently than the presence of IL-1, IL-2, and IL-6. Neutralization experiments indicated that most of the IL-1 present in the urine after BCG treatment was IL-1 alpha. In conclusion, activation of BCG-specific T cells was indicated by the detection of IL-2. The presence of IL-1, IL-6, and TNF alpha might suggest activation of macrophages by intravesically administered BCG, although production by other cell types cannot be excluded. It is suggested that these cytokines, in combination with the leucocytes that are known to be recruited to the bladder in reaction to the BCG treatment, may play an important role in the antitumour activity of BCG against bladder cancer. For monitoring purposes, collection of urine might be performed during the first 6 h after BCG instillations 4-6.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • BCG Vaccine / administration & dosage*
  • BCG Vaccine / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / urine
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / urine
  • Interleukin-1 / urine*
  • Interleukin-2 / urine*
  • Interleukin-6 / urine*
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / urine*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / immunology
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / urine


  • BCG Vaccine
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma