The present study attempts to define the role of interleukin-15 (IL-15), as compared with IL-2, in generating cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) from the malignant effusions of cancer patients. Effusion-associated lymphocytes (EAL) from malignant effusion were incubated with IL-15 or IL-2 with or without αCD3. Proliferation and cytotoxicity assays were performed. IL-15 was found to have at least an equivalent, if not higher, activity to IL-2 in terms of lymphocyte proliferation and generation of CTL from EAL. The proliferative response of EAL, cocultured with IL-15, with or without αCD3, was partly inhibited by pretreatment with an anti-IL-2 receptor β chain monoclonal antibody (mAb). The proliferative response of EAL, cocultured with αCD3, IL- 2, or both, was partly inhibited by pretreatment with an anti-IL-2 receptor α chain mAb. Overnight [51Cr] release assays against K562, Daudi, and the patients' autologous tumor cells were done to evaluate EAL's cytolytic activity. MHC class I Ab blocked the stimulated cytolytic activity of EAL against autologous tumors. An mAb depletion assay showed that the phenotype of the restored EAL was CD16-CD4-CD8+; thus, the restored activity of EAL was CTL activity. The results suggest that both IL-15 and IL-2 can restore CTL activity from EAL in the presence of T cell receptor (TCR)-CD3 engagement, but the effect of IL-15 was superior.
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