Targeting cytotoxins or immunotoxins to tumor cell surface receptors represents a new approach for the treatment of cancers. We tested the antitumor activity of a cytotoxin (IL-4-PE) composed of an interleukin-4 (IL-4) targeting moiety and a truncated form of Pseudomonas exotoxin A against human biliary tract carcinoma (BTC). Immunohistochemical analysis showed that cultured BTC cell lines and cancerous epithelia in BTC tissue (e.g., gallbladder carcinoma, extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma) expressed receptors for IL-4 in situ at high densities. However, normal epithelial cells in gallbladder and bile duct tissues did not express these IL-4 receptors. Eight BTC cell lines expressed IL-4R on the cell surface as determined by radiolabeled ligand binding assays. When these cells were treated with IL-4-PE, significant cytotoxicity was observed as determined by the inhibition of protein synthesis. The concentration of agent causing 50% inhibition of protein synthesis (IC(50)) was found to be less than 10 ng/mL in 4 of the 8 BTC cell lines studied. The antitumor activity of IL-4-PE was assessed for human BTC cells implanted subcutaneously in immunodeficient mice. By intratumoral injection of IL-4-PE, complete disappearance of the established tumors was observed in 40% of animals. Intraperitoneal administration of IL-4-PE at tolerated doses to animals with peritoneally disseminated BTC exhibited significantly prolonged survival compared to untreated animals (>14 weeks vs. 5 weeks in treated and untreated mice, respectively). These results indicate that IL-4 receptor-targeted cytotoxin is a potent agent that may provide a new therapeutic option for BTC.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.