Background & aims: Liver cancer has a very dismal prognosis due to lack of effective therapy. Here, we studied the therapeutic effects of hyper-interleukin15 (hyper-IL-15), which is composed of IL-15 and the sushi domain of the IL-15 receptor α chain, on metastatic and autochthonous liver cancers.
Methods: Liver metastatic tumour models were established by intraportally injecting syngeneic mice with murine CT26 colon carcinoma cells or B16-OVA melanoma cells. Primary hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was induced by diethylnitrosamine (DEN). A hydrodynamics-based gene delivery method was used to achieve sustained hyper-IL-15 expression in the liver.
Results: Liver gene delivery of hyper-IL-15 robustly expanded CD8(+) T and NK cells, leading to a long-term (more than 40 days) accumulation of CD8(+) T cells in vivo, especially in the liver. Hyper-IL-15 treatment exerted remarkable therapeutic effects on well-established liver metastatic tumours and even on DEN-induced autochthonous HCC, and these effects were abolished by depletion of CD8(+) T cells but not NK cells. Hyper-IL-15 triggered IL-12 and interferon-γ production and reduced the expression of co-inhibitory molecules on dendritic cells in the liver. Adoptive transfer of T cell receptor (TCR) transgenic OT-1 cells showed that hyper-IL-15 preferentially expanded tumour-specific CD8(+) T cells and promoted their interferon-γ synthesis and cytotoxicity.
Conclusions: Liver delivery of hyper-IL-15 provides an effective therapy against well-established metastatic and autochthonous liver cancers in mouse models by preferentially expanding tumour-specific CD8(+) T cells and promoting their anti-tumour effects.
Keywords: Cytotoxicity; IFN-γ; Immunotherapy; Liver cancer.
Copyright © 2014 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.