In addition to infiltrating inflammatory cells, tumors also produce cytokines and growth factors that may alter tumor growth, tumor immunogenicity, and the host immune response. To characterize the expression profile of human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)-derived cytokines, the mRNA expression of type 1 and type 2 cytokines in five human NSCLC lines was analyzed by reverse transcriptase-PCR. Expression of interleukin 5 (IL-5) and IL-10 was demonstrated in all tumor lines evaluated, whereas IL-4 was present in three of five lines and IL-13 was present in two of five lines. In contrast, none of the tumor lines expressed IL-2 and IFN-γ. Type 2 cytokine protein production by NSCLC lines was confirmed by immunoprecipitation and cytokine specific ELISA. Tumor-derived IL-10 secretion was significantly augmented by exogenous recombinant cytokines including IL-4 and tumor necrosis factor-α. To evaluate whether fresh NSCLC nodules also express a type 2 cytokine pattern, the content of type 1 and type 2 cytokines in tissue homogenates from 13 fresh NSCLC nodules and normal lung surgical specimens was assessed. Human NSCLC nodules contain significantly more type 2 cytokines than does normal lung tissue when corrected for total protein concentration. To identify the cellular source of type 2 cytokine production in tumor nodules, immunohistology was performed on sections from 5 lung squamous cell carcinomas and 5 adenocarcinomas. All of the specimens revealed positive staining for type 2 cytokines within tumor cells. In summary, we report that human NSCLC cells produce type 2 cytokines both in situ and in vitro, which may play an active immunoregulatory role in the lung cancer microenvironment.


This work is supported by the American Lung Association, the Tobacco-Related Disease research program of the University of California, Veterans Administration Merit Review Research Funds, and the Stop Cancer/Helen Neufeld Research Career Development Award. M. H. was supported by NIH Institutional Training Grant in Tumor Immunology CA09120 and a Jaye Haddad-Concern Foundation Immunology Fellowship. S. S. was supported by NIH Institutional Training Grant in Pulmonary Medicine HL07014 and a Jaye Haddad-Concern Foundation Immunology Fellowship. A portion of this work was presented at the 1994 AACR annual meeting.

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