In an attempt to augment the generation of human cytotoxic effector cells for potential cancer therapy with interleukin 2 (IL2) and lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells, the effect of interleukin 4 (IL4) on LAK cell induction was studied. In normal human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL), IL4 does not induce LAK activity and inhibits LAK induction by IL2. However, since lymphocyte activation, such as with antigen or mitogen, can render them responsive to IL4, the ability of IL4 to induce LAK activity in lymphocytes preactivated in vivo or in vitro with IL2 was investigated. PBL obtained from 12 patients with advanced cancer 1 to 3 days after IL2 therapy and from eight healthy control subjects were cultured 4 to 5 days with or without IL4 and/or IL2 and then tested for LAK activity as assessed by lysis of Daudi in a 4-h 51Cr release assay. In normal PBL, IL4 failed to induce LAK activity and consistently inhibited LAK induction by a suboptimal concentration of IL2 (10 units/ml). By contrast, IL4 induced LAK activity in PBL from seven of twelve IL2-treated patients and augmented LAK induction by the suboptimal IL2 in PBL from five of twelve IL2-treated patients. With an optimal LAK-inducing concentration of IL2 (1000 units/ml), IL4 less consistently inhibited LAK induction in normal PBL and had a variable effect upon LAK induction in PBL from IL2-treated patients. IL4 induced LAK activity in PBL obtained from a cancer patient after, but not before, systemic IL2 therapy. Similarly, IL4 induced LAK activity in normal PBL only after they had been preincubated with IL2. Thus, IL4 induces LAK activity in lymphocytes preactivated by IL2 in vivo or in vitro. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting revealed that the LAK activity, whether induced by IL4 or by IL2, was mediated largely by non-T (CD5-) natural killer-like (CD56+) cells. The results suggest a regulatory relationship between IL2 and IL4 in the induction and/or maintenance of LAK activity, which might be exploited to augment the generation of cytotoxic cells for lymphokine-mediated immunotherapy of human cancer.


This work was supported in part by Grant CA18029 and Contract N01-CM47668 awarded by the National Cancer Institute, Department of Health and Human Services. Some of the data in this manuscript were presented at the 80th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, May 1989 (34).

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