Systematic Preclinical Study on the Therapeutic Properties of Recombinant Human Interleukin 2 for the Treatment of Metastatic Disease

James E. Talmadge, Hamblin Phillips, John Schindler, Henry Tribble, Robin Pennington

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97 Scopus citations


The availability of recombinant human interleukin 2 (rH IL 2) has resulted in its clinical utilization both as a single agent and in combination with lymphokine-activated killer cells. In this report, we discuss the effects of rH IL 2, administered by various routes, on effector cell function, pharmacokinetics and bioavailability, and therapeutic activity. Studies of the pharmacokinetics of in vitro natural killer (NK) cell augmentation by rH IL 2 revealed that a short exposure to high levels of rH IL 2 can augment NK cell activity; however, a prolonged exposure (12 h) was required to augment NK cell activity at lower doses of rH IL 2. These observations suggested that chronic administration of rH IL 2 might improve immunomodulatory and therapeutic activity. This hypothesis was supported by the results of studies in which we treated experimental and spontaneous metastasis, which revealed that the daily i.p. administration of rH IL 2 resulted in significantly greater therapeutic activity than administration three times/week. The therapeutic protocol for daily i.p. administration had a biphasic dosage optimum, such that low dose therapeutic activity was observed at approximately 100–1000 units/animal in the treatment of experimental metastases or 10 to 100 units/animal in the treatment of spontaneous metastases. There was a second dosage optimum at ≥100, 000 units/animal rH IL 2 delivered i.p. on a daily basis. Intermediate doses had no significant therapeutic activity. Additional studies revealed that low dose therapeutic activity was not observed in nude mice. In contrast, therapeutic activity was observed in nude mice at high doses of rH IL 2 suggesting that low dose activity was associated with a T-cell-mediated effect, whereas high dose activity may have been mediated by NK or lymphokine-activated killer-like cells. This observation was in agreement with the dose response for T-cell adjuvant activity supporting the hypothesis that low dose therapeutic activity was T-cell associated, because adjuvant activity was observed when rH IL 2 was given daily at approximately 100 units/animal for 3 days, and higher doses had no activity or had a suppressive effect. Because we were concerned about the pharmacological aspects of rH IL 2 treatment, we also examined its therapeutic properties after continuous administration i.p. by osmotic pumps. Under these conditions, therapeutic activity was observed after administration of 600 units/h, whereas lower or higher doses did not have significant therapeutic activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5725-5732
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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