Potent antitumor effects mediated by local expression of the mature form of the interferon-γ inducing factor, interleukin-18 (IL-18)

T. Osaki, W. Hashimoto, A. Gambotto, H. Okamura, P. D. Robbins, M. Kurimoto, M. T. Lotze, H. Tahara

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119 Scopus citations


IL-18 is produced during the acute immune response by macrophages and immature dendritic cells. IL-18 receptors are induced on T cells and NK cells by IL-12 and together they enhance a cellular immune response. We constructed retroviral and adenoviral vectors encoding the mature bioactive murine IL-18 in order to examine their immune and antitumor effects in murine tumor models. Secretion of bioactive IL-18 from murine tumor cells was facilitated by transfecting them with recombinant viral vectors carrying the prepro leader sequence of human parathyroid hormone fused to the 5' end of the mature murine IL-18 cDNA. Direct injection of the IL-18 recombinant adenoviral vector (Ad.PTH.IL-18) into an established MCA205 murine fibrosarcoma completely eradicated tumor in all animals with concomitant induction of protective systemic immunity. Co-administration of systemic IL-12 provided synergistic antitumor effects when combined with peritumoral injections of Ad.PTH.IL-18 without apparent side-effects as we observed with systemic administration of IL-18. Depletion of asialo GM-1+ cells completely abrogated the antitumor effects of Ad.PTH.IL-18, suggesting a major role for NK cells in mediating the anti-tumor effects of IL-18. Peritumoral injection of Ad.PTH.IL-18 was also associated with reduced numbers of CD8+ cells found within the tumor (HBSS versus AdPTH.IL-18, P < 0.0001). This suggests that IL-18 could be utilized as an alternative cancer gene therapy especially when combined with systemic administration of IL-12.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)808-815
Number of pages8
JournalGene therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Drs Toru Kitagawa, Yasuhiko Nishioka, Muneo Numasaki, Takuya Takayama, Motohiro Hirao, Shusuke Moriuchi, Hideho Okada, Kazumasa Hiroishi, Hiromune Shimamura and Levent Balkir for their valuable assistance and suggestions. We are also grateful to Ms Loraine R McKenzie and Susan F Schoonover for their excellent technical assistance. This work was supported in part by Career Development Award of American Society of Clinical Oncology ‘94 (HT) and a National Institutes of Health Grant 1PO1 CA 48047–01 (HT, PDR, MTL).


  • Gene therapy
  • IL-12
  • Leader sequence
  • Virus vector

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