Immunocytokines: a promising approach to cancer immunotherapy

Pharmacol Ther. 1998 Dec;80(3):277-92. doi: 10.1016/s0163-7258(98)00033-3.


Recombinant antibody-cytokine fusion proteins are immunocytokines that achieve high cytokine concentrations in the tumor microenvironment and thereby effectively stimulate cellular immune responses against malignancies. The activation and expansion of immune effector cells, such as CD8+ T lymphocytes, by interleukin-2 immunocytokines resulted in the eradication of established pulmonary and hepatic metastases of murine melanoma and colorectal carcinoma in syngeneic mouse models. These immunocytokines were equally effective in eliminating established bone marrow and liver metastases of murine neuroblastoma by activating natural killer cells. The effective eradication of metastases by immunocytokines resulted in significant prolongation in life span of mice over that of controls receiving equivalent mixtures of antibody and interleukin-2, which failed to reduce the growth of disseminated metastases. Proof of concept was established, indicating that immunocytokine-induced activation and expansion of immune effector cells in the tumor microenvironment can effectively eradicate established tumor metastases. This promising new approach to cancer immunotherapy may lead to clinical applications that improve treatment of cancer patients with minimal residual disease in an adjuvant setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cytokines / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Mice


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cytokines